Knox Central football

Knox Central players celebrate an impressive comeback victory over Breathitt County in their regular season finale. 

The Knox Central Panthers hadn't won a home game all season. That changed on Friday night. Down 35-21 with 50.7 seconds remaining in the game, the Panthers scored a touchdown, recovered an onside kick, and scored again, taking the game into overtime. On their lone possession in overtime, Knox Central scored to take a 41-35 lead. Needing to stop the Bobcats to secure the win, the Panthers kept Breathitt County out of the end zone in overtime, securing a 41-35 victory, their first home win of the season, in their final regular season game. 

Steve Partin got things started in the first quarter, giving Knox Central a 7-0 lead with a 33-yard rushing touchdown. The score would hold through the duration of the first quarter. 

Breathitt County quarterback Jaylen Turner darted into the end zone for the Bobcats' first touchdown of the game with 10:22 remaining in the second quarter. Following an unsuccessful PAT, Knox Central held a slim 7-6 lead. 

Breathitt County took their first lead of the game with 3:16 remaining in the second quarter with their second rushing touchdown of the game, taking a 14-7 lead, following a successful 2-point conversion.

Following a massive kick-off return from Knox Central's Seth Tompkins, the Panthers knotted the game up at 14-14 with a 1-yard rushing touchdown from Matt Elkins. Ivy Partin booted through the ensuing PAT to tie the game. 

The score sat even at halftime, 14-14.

The Bobcats struck first in the third quarter to regain the lead at 21-14 with 5:22 remaining in the period. However, Partin dashed 20-yards for a touchdown, tying the game at 21-21 following a successful PAT from Taylor Payne, with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter.

The teams sat tied to begin the final frame, 21-21. 

The Panthers forced the Bobcats to a fourth down on the one yard line, however, Breathitt County would not be denied, as they regained the lead at 28-21 with a 1-yard rushing touchdown and successful PAT, with 11:36 remaining in the game.

The Bobcats added another touchdown with 1:46 remaining in the game, to take a 35-21 lead, and that's when things got interesting. 

With time dwindling, Knox Central had to go down field as quickly as possible. With 50.7 seconds remaining in the game, Partin found Abe Brock, for a touchdown, with help from a big block on the sideline from K.T. Turner. After scoring the touchdown, the ensuing PAT was unsuccessful, leaving the Panthers trailing 35-27 with 43.7 seconds remaining in the game. 

perfectly executed onside kick was recovered by the Panthers, as the sidelines and home crowd erupted. There was still hope. 

With 3.5 seconds remaining in the game, Partin found K.T. Turner in the back of the end zone for the game tying touchdown. However, Knox Central still needed a 2-point conversion to tie the game. On the ensuing play, it seemed like Partin would be stopped, however, he broke free and squeaked across the plane, tying the game, and sending it into overtime.

The Panthers got the ball to start the overtime period, and scored a touchdown, regaining the lead. It was the first time they led since the 10:22 mark of the second quarter. 

On the ensuing Bobcat possession, Knox Central kept Breathitt County out of the end zone, and escaped with a 41-35 victory to conclude the regular season.

"Honestly, I thought we were down-and-out," said Knox Central coach Travis McDaniel. "We preach to our guys about playing 48-minutes every game. It's like I told them, I'm not sure we played a full 48-minutes, but we played until the final whistle, and that's all you can ask for out of a team. When you've got a team that gives everything they've got every week, that's all you can ask for."

Missing a multitude of key contributors, McDaniel praised his team and coaching staff for making adjustments and overcoming adversity.

"You always want to go into the playoffs with momentum," he said. "We got a slow start in this one, and had some guys out. Hats off to our players and our coaching staff for making adjustments tonight. You see guys making big plays and making a big comeback, and seeing those guys smile is more important to me than anything. I can't say enough about how hard our guys fought tonight."

Knox Central will travel to Lincoln County next Friday to take on the Patriots in the first round of the Class 4A 2021 UK Orthopedics State Football Finals.

John is a native of Washburn, Tennessee, and the founder and host of the All Vol Call In Show.

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