MONTICELLO - With 15 seconds left in the opening half, Wayne County led 22-8 and seemed to be in control of the game. However, Knox Central outscored the Cardinals 38 to 6 over the next 22 minutes en route to the Panthers' 46-36 win over Wayne County at a somber Jewell Field on Friday.
With 15 seconds left in the half, Wayne County senior quarterback Brody Weaver hit sophomore receiver Mason Burchett for a 25-yard pass play. On the conversion, Weaver connected with junior Lee Shelton to put the Cardinals up 22-8.
Fifteen seconds later and no time left on the clock. Knox Central scored on a 28-yard pass play from senior Brady Worley to senior Jake Fisher to put the score at 22-14 at the half. Then in the first minute of the second half, Knox Central scored again on a 61-yard pass play from Worley to Fisher to tie the game at 22-22.
"That score by Knox Central to end the half took a lot out of us," Wayne County High School football Shawn Thompson stated. "We let our guard down a little bit and we couldn't overcome it."
Midway through the third quarter, All-State running back Braedon Sloan scored from six yards out to put the Cardinals back up 28-22. But from that point on, Knox Central scored 24 unanswered points to take a commanding 46-28 lead with only 2:37 left in the game.
Weaver hit Sloan for a 22-yard touchdown pass late in the game to put the final score at 46-36.
"We didn't play out best game tonight, but it is what it is" Thompson stated. "This is the last game that a lot of these kids are going to play together as a team. I am proud of them with what they went through this year. They will bounce back next year and get in the weight room."
Sloan put the first score on the board on a 23-yard touchdown run. Late in the second quarter, Weaver hit sophomore receiver Wesley Cares for a 66-yard pass play to put the Cardinals up 14-8.
Sloan ended his stellar high school career with 193 yards on 27 carries with a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. Sloan also left the Cardinal football program as their all-time leading rusher, and arguably one the greatest football players to wear a Cardinal uniform.
Weaver also ended his high school career with a strong night on 15 completions for 213 yards, with three touchdown passes.
Not only did the Cardinals say farewell to 14 seniors in their opening-round playoff loss, but they will say goodbye to their longtime head coach Shawn Thompson
"I am hanging it up, I'm done," Thompson stated. "After 20-plus years, I had a good run."
Thompson coached Wayne County for 17 seasons with four regional titles, one semi-state title, and a 2013 state runner-up finish. Thompson amassed 137 wins and had 13 winning seasons.
Wayne County finished up the year with 4-4 record, while Knox Central (5-2) will play at Corbin next week for the district title. The Cardinals and Knox Central never played each other in the regular season after having two scheduled meetings postponed. Despite Friday night's loss to the Panthers, Wayne County holds as a 14-6 series lead over Knox Central.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.
KC 0 14 14 16 - 46
WC 6 16 6 8 - 36
WAYNE COUNTY - Sloan 27-193 2TD; KNOX CENTRAL - Mills 19-97 TD
WAYNE COUNTY - Weaver 15-29-213 3TD; KNOX CENTRAL - Worley 17-25-276 4TD.
WAYNE COUNTY - Simpson 7-84, Cares 3-84 TD, Burchett 2-26 TD, Sloan 1-22 TD; KNOX CENTRAL - Partin 7-104 2TD, Barnard 4-70 2TD, Fisher 2-89 TD.