One week after having their game against the South Laurel Cardinals canceled due to COVID-19, the Knox Central Panthers traveled down KY 119, to Harlan County high school, and dominated the Black Bears.
Last season, in the first game of the year, the Panthers defeated the Black Bears by just a single point, and the year before that, Harlan County defeated Knox Central. The 42-26 win this season was the most dominant performance against Harlan County that the Panthers have had since a 41-8 win in 2018.
The Panthers took a quick lead before the Black Bears were able to battle their way back to within one touchdown. Resuming play in the third quarter, the Panthers struck quickly, then followed with a crucial defensive stop, before hitting pay dirt once again. Knox Central began to pull away, inevitably securing a 42-26 victory over the Black Bears to improve to 3-1 on the season.
Quarterback Marc Warren had his best performance of the season, completing 62% of his passes (16/26) for 341 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. The Panthers racked up 147 yards on the ground. Steve Partin led in yardage with 10 carries for 76 yards. Seth Tompkins tallied the most touchdowns, rushing 10 times for 56 yards, and two scores. Cayden Collins carried the ball three times for 15 yards and a touchdown.
Two different receivers tallied over 100 yards for the Panthers against the Black Bears. Abe Brock caught five passes for 148 yards and one touchdown. University of Kentucky tight end prospect Gavin Chadwell caught three passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Steve Partin also hauled in five catches for 44 yards, giving him 120 total yards of offense when combined with his rushing stats. JeVonte Turner hauled in three catches for 33 yards.
Also, for the first time in school history, two young ladies tallied points for the Panthers' football team. Senior wrestler/soccer player Ivy Partin connected on a PAT (point after touchdown) in the first half, with junior Taylor Payne, who also plays soccer for the Lady Panthers, connecting on a PAT in the second half.
On the defensive side of the ball, Knox Central was led by Steve Partin, who was all over the field, with 16 total tackles, including two tackles for loss, and one quarterback sack. He was followed by Devin Hoskins with 15 total tackles, including a tackle for loss, and a quarterback sack. Cayden Collins added 12 tackles, including a very impressive total of four quarterback sacks, with Gavin Chadwell tallying 10 tackles.
Knox Central head coach Travis McDaniel was pleased with his team's performance in a hostile environment. He was also pleased with the way his team handled adversity, even if the adversity was self-inflicted.
“We are happy to get a win, especially on the road in a tough place like Harlan County,” said McDaniel. “We asked them to come out and press the gas, and we did just that. We hit some adversity later, but it was adversity we brought on ourselves with some mistakes.The good news is, the mistakes can be corrected, and we will go back to work on that. I thought our defense played great all night considering some of the situations they were in. Overall though, I felt like when we needed a big play, our guys stepped up.”
“We are happy to finally have a home game after a year of not playing there,” he added. “We are excited, and expecting a huge home crowd.”
The Panthers will finally get to play at home for the first time this season as they welcome the Paintsville Tigers to town on Friday, with kick off slated for 7:30.