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By David Sharp
Knox County (5-2) took advantage of St. Paul Lutheran (6-2) turnovers and held off a last ditch Saints rally for a 58- 54 win in October 15, 2021 eight man football action at Knox County. The contest featured 16 scoring plays.
The Eagles were able to stay close on the scoreboard despite a bigger, physical Saint front line. Elijah Ward picked up a fumble and raced 30 yards for a touchdown near the end of the first half, giving the Eagles their first lead of the game at 28- 22 with 56 seconds to play in the first half.
“We got lucky enough we knocked off a ranked team several years ago,” Knox County coach Bruce Vannoy said of the Eagles beating the seventh ranked team in Missouri 8-man football.
“But that was early in the year,” Coach Vannoy was talking about a Knox County win over conference rival Westran. “They were a good team, but they were a little down that year. This is a little different.”
“It is late in the year. St. Paul is ranked and rightfully so. They are a good team. They are well coached, and they have some good athletes. This was definitely the most physical game we have had this year.”
“It was a great win,” Bruce Vannoy said. “Our kids just kept fighting. Even when we got a lead and they kept chipping away, our kids never gave up. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
“We said early in the week that we wanted to gain some respect,” Vannoy said. “if you want to be a great or good team, you have to beat great teams. That is not a knock at any team we have played. But this year, we just haven’t beat teams that are in the top ten or even have winning records right now.”
“That’s been our focus. The guys came out and did that,” Bruce Vannoy said. “We are happy as a (coaching) staff. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into districts.”
Knox County could not move the football early in the game. The Eagles were forced to punt on their first series. Ethan Kirby caught a 46 yard pass from Christian Bobzin with 8:35 to play in the first quarter.
The two point pass was good to lineman Christian Anderson for an 8-0 Saint lead. Knox County used their passing game effectively. Tanner Gillaspy caught a 31 yard pass from Brandon Miller with 1:35 showing on the first quarter clock for an 8-6 score. The two point run failed.
Sophomore running back Jayden Maggert caught a 49 yard pass from Christian Bobzin with no time on the first quarter clock. The two point pass failed for a 14-6 St. Paul Lutheran lead after the first period.
The second quarter contained a combined six touchdowns. Braydon Miller caught four touchdown passes, all from Branson Miller. Braydon Miller caught a 36 yard touchdown pass with 5:12 remaining in the first half for a 14-12 deficit. The two point run was unsuccessful.
Jayden Maggert opened a 22-12 lead after Hunter Luedeman ran in the two point conversion with 3:03 to play in the second period. St. Paul Lutheran (6-2) had a touchdown taken off the board due to a second quarter penalty.
The Saints were able to score later in the drive. St. Paul turned the football over three times late in the first half. Braydon Miller stopped a drive with a fumble recovery. Elijah Ward picked up a muffed punt and scored. Knox County took a brief 28-22 lead after trailing by ten points about two minutes earlier.
Branson Miller scored a touchdown from 20 yards out with 2:19 to play. The Saints got back on track when Ethan Kirby caught a 31 yard touchdown pass from Christian Bobzin. Isaac Long ran in the two point conversion for a 30-28 Saint lead with 28 seconds showing on the second quarter clock.
Knox County rallied when Brayden Miller caught a 14 yard touchdown pass from Branson Miller with about a second to play in the first half. The two point pass failed for a 34-30 halftime lead.
The first half was marred by an injury to a St. Paul player around the two minute mark of the first half. The player was taken off the field by the Knox County Ambulance crew. Saint Head coach C.J. Gifford told the Edina Sentinel that the injury was not believed to be serious, and the player requested to ride back to Concordia, Missouri on the team bus.
The teams exchanged touchdowns on their first drives of the second half. Jayden Maggert scored the third of his four St. Paul Lutheran touchdowns on a 19 yard run with 9:38 remaining in the third quarter.
Braydon Miller put Knox County back ahead by a 13 yard pass from Branson Miller with 4:45 to play in the period. Knox County led 40-38. Knox County was able to stop the Saints around the midfield stripe and score again.
Braydon Miller caught a 28 yard pass for a 46-38 lead with 57 seconds to play in the third quarter. Branson Miller recovered an onside kick after the Eagle score. Branson Miller raced 27 yards for a touchdown and a 52-38 lead with 51 ticks on the third quarter clock.
Knox County took the 52-38 lead to the fourth quarter. Jacob Becker caught a seven yard touchdown pass from Branson Miller for a 58-38 lead with 6:38 remaining in the game. Knox County’s inability to cash in on two point conversions almost cost them the game.
St. Paul stopped Knox County on two drives late in the game. The Saints roared back with two touchdowns. Logan Muehler ran the ball in from two yards out with 4:29 to play. The two point conversion made the score 58-46 in favor of the home team.
Jaydon Maggert caught a 38 yard pass from Christian Bobzin with 1:50 to play in the game Bobkin ran in the two point conversion. St. Paul Lutheran closed within a 58-54 deficit with 16 unanswered points.
Knox County took over on their 39 yard line with 1:48 to play. The Eagles were unable to make a first down when they needed one. Branson Miller was able to punt the football deep into Saint territory.
St. Paul Lutheran took over on their nine yard line. Knox County’s defense was able to get a stop. A fourth down and four pass was incomplete. The play appeared to be a fumbled hook and lateral play but turned out to be an incomplete pass.
Knox County took over on downs. The Eagles were able to run out the remaining time for the 58-54 win.
Knox County was able to rush 43 times for 149 yards as a team. Branson Miller led the way with 24 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns unofficially. Braxton Miller carried nine times for 20 yards. Austin Jansen was 10-9 rushing.
Branson Miller was 18-28 passing for 265 yards and six touchdown passes. Braydon Miller had nine catches for 188 yards and four touchdown catches unofficially. Braxton McCurren was 5-60 receiving. Tanner Gillaspy was 3-50 yards and a touchdown. Jacob Becker had a seven yard touchdown catch.
Knox County outgained St. Paul Lutheran 414-384 in total yards from scrimmage. The Eagles had eight penalties for 60 yards.
Jaden Maggert was 12-77 yards rushing with four touchdowns. St. Paul Lutheran was 28-144 yards rushing as a team. Christian Bobzin was 10-19 for 240 yards passing and five touchdowns. Ethan Kirby led the Saints with six catches for 96 yards. Jayden Maggert had four receptions for 97 yards.
The Saints had seven penalties for 55 yards unofficially. The Eagles play at winless Schuyler County (0-7) next week at 6PM.
Knox County currently is third in the Class 1, District 2 eight man football district standings. North Shelby is first with a 7-0 record and 46.29 points. St. Paul Lutheran is second with 41.19 points. The Eagles now have 35.81 points.
Northwest Hughesville is fourth with a 5-3 record and 35.43 points. Currently Concordia HS is fifth with a 3-5 record and 25.44 points. Santa Fe is sixth with 23.75 points.
The Eagles are a good bet to finish in the top four of their district and have at least one home game in the district playoffs. Second place St. Paul Lutheran has a much tougher draw in week nine if records are considered. The Saints host 7-0 Drexel while Knox County travels to 0-7 Schuyler County.
Northwest Hughesville (5-3) hosts 7-1 St. Joseph- Bishop LeBlond in their final regular season game. The bottom line is Knox County could finish anywhere from second through fourth depending on how their district opponents fare in the final week of the regular season.