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By David Sharp
Knox County turned a 14 point halftime deficit into a ten point lead early in the fourth quarter of their September 15, 2023 Homecoming Football game with Southwest Livingston County. Robert Dooley scored seven Eagle touchdowns while gaining a combined 258 unofficial yards.
A power running Wildcat offense rushed 67 times for 426 yards on the night. Knox County (0-4) led by a 76-66 margin with 3:53 to play in the game. William Hughes passed for two Wildcat touchdowns in the final four minutes, pulling out an 80-76 victory.
Southwest Livingston County scored the final points of the game with 6.2 seconds showing on the clock. The teams rolled up 1,005 total combined yards from scrimmage unofficially.
Knox County rushed 31 times for 331 yards. The Eagles passed 14 times with ten completions for 152 yards as a team with two Collin Hayes touchdown passes and 483 total yards from scrimmage.
Wildcat runners Tucker Singer and Lawrence Hughes ran behind a large offensive line. SW Livingston Co. scored the first two touchdowns on power running drives. Tucker Singer carried 33 times for 252 yards and two touchdowns unofficially, leading all ground gainers.
Knox County recovered a first quarter Wildcat fumble. Robert Dooley scored on two straight Eagle possessions from three and four yards out. The two point run tied the game at 14 all with 4:11 remaining in the first quarter.
The score remained at 14 all at the close of the opening period. The teams battled back and forth with scoring drives throughout the second quarter. Tucker Singer barreled in from five yards away for a 22-14 lead with 11:25 showing on the second quarter clock.
Grant Warren raced into the end zone for a 28-14 Wildcat advantage with 8:40 remaining in the first half. Robert Dooley caught a three yard pass from Collin Hayes with 7:15 to play in the first half pulling Knox County within a 28-22 tally.
The 17th ranked in 8-Man Football Wildcats kept trying to put the young Eagles in their rear view mirror. Knox County put on a clinic of how to compete with a bigger, stronger opponent.
Lawrence Hughes put SW Livingston back up 36-22 at the 4:19 mark of the second quarter. Collin Hayes raced six yards for a six point deficit with 3:06 to play in the half.
Breckyn Volker caught a 39 yard touchdown pass from William Hughes with 16.8 seconds to play in the first half for a 44-30 lead.
Cooper Clair took the ensuing kickoff back to the house, scoring from 65 yards away with six seconds remaining in the first half. The hotly contested game went to halftime with Southwest Livingston leading by a 44-38 margin.
Knox County remained close despite being outgained 239-100 yards rushing in the first half. Knox County was 5-5 passing in the opening two quarters for an 86- 41 yard edge.
The Wildcats held a 16-12 edge in first downs at the half. SW Livingston led 280-186 in total yards from scrimmage. The Wildcats had two penalties for 20 yards opposed to 4-30 in first half penalty yards. Knox County had a fumble recovery in the first half.
Knox County struck quickly in the second half. Robert Dooley raced 44 yards for a touchdown with 11:41 to play in the third period. The two point run put Knox County in upset position with a 46-44 second half lead.
The Eagles stopped the Wildcats on downs on their 16 yard line. Collin Hayes located Donovan Dooley for a 28 yard touchdown pass and a 54-44 lead with 5:40 remaining in the third period.
A nine yard Lawrence Hughes run pulled the Wildcats within a 54-50 deficit with 3:52 remaining in the high scoring tilt. William Hughes scored from one yard out for a 58-54 SW Livingston Co. lead with 52.7 seconds in the third quarter.
Robert Dooley capped a 38 yard scoring drive for a 60-58 Eagle edge with 31.3 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Knox County stopped the Wildcats on downs after a 49 yard drive to the Eagle 16 with 8:13 to play in the game. Robert Dooley scored on a 31 yard run for a 68-58 lead with 7:14 showing on the fourth quarter clock.
The teams traded scored until Knox County led 74-66 with 3:53 to play in the game. The Wildcats went to their passing sets. Grant Warren caught a 29 yard touchdown pass from William Hughes with 2:34 to play in the game.
The two point run failed, leaving Knox County on top of a 76-72 tally. The Eagles took over on their 38 yard line with 2:22 remaining. SW Livingston Co. stopped the Eagles on downs at the /wildcat 35 yard line with 1:30 remaining.
William Hughes ended the Eagle upset hopes with a 23 yard touchdown pass to the front corner of the end zone with 6.2 seconds remaining in the game. Drew Gilliland hauled in the decisive aerial.
Southwest Livingston County ran in the two point conversion for the 80-76 lead. Knox County got the ball back in the closing seconds on their 39 yard line. The Eagles weren’t able to score quickly enough, leaving the Wildcats the chance to escape with the 80-78 win.
Knox County finished with 27 first downs to 34 for the Wildcats. William Hughes rushed 12 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. William Hughes was 5-10 passing for 96 yards, and interception against and three touchdown passes. Lawrence Hughes gained 59 rushing yards with three scores.
Robert Dooley was 17-158 yards rushing with six touchdowns. The senior running back had four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Collin Hayes was 11- 145 yards rushing with a touchdown. Hayes caught a 24 yard pass from Robert Dooley early in the game.
Knox County had six penalties for 45 yards. Southwest Livingston Co. had three penalties for 30 yards unofficially.
“For four quarters, we never quit,” Knox County coach Bruce Vannoy said. “I’m proud of them for that. Obviously, that is a heartbreaker. We had a lot of chances to put this game away. We just never could quite do it.”
“Hats off to Southwest,” Bruce Vannoy said. “They are a great team. Obviously we struggled stopping the run tonight. They are big up front and they have some big backs. Whenever they got some steam and got rolling downhill, it was going to be a load to bring them down.”
“We didn’t make quite enough plays. That’s what a game like this comes down to,” Bruce Vannoy said. “Ultimately at the end they made one more play than we did. Our kids fought and I’m proud of them for that.”