Warrior defense delivers again in 22-20 win over Knox Central

WADE UPCHURCH I CJ

Southwestern High School senior Connor Crisp carries the ball during a recent game. The Warriors remain undefeated after a close 22-20 win over Knox Central on the Reservation.

While it may have been another game for the Southwestern Warriors, it was the same old story.

In the Warriors’ first two games of the 2020 season, the defense has made some crucial plays down the stretch to come away with a victory.

Friday night’s matchup versus Knox Central was no different, as the Southwestern defense came up with a game-saving interception to claim a 22-20 victory over the visiting Panthers.

With the two-point triumph over Knox Central at the Reservation, Jason Foley’s squad moved to 3-0 overall on the season. The Panthers, meanwhile, fell to 2-1 on the year with the loss.

It wasn't the best of outings for Southwestern, but at the end of the day, they added another 'W' in the win column. The Warriors will head into Class 5A District 8 play with an undefeated record.

"We didn't play the best all night," began Foley. "We didn't play our prettiest game, but we found a way to win, and I'm proud of them for that. I am happy about the win, but we want to reach our ceiling. We want to be the best that we can be."

On the inaugural play of the fourth period, a four-yard touchdown run from Giddeon Brainard allowed the Warriors to retake the lead from Knox Central at 22-20. Southwestern’s two-point conversion failed, but they led the Panthers by two points with 11:56 to go in regulation.

With just over four minutes to go, Southwestern got to the Knox Central five-yard line, but an interception would give the ball back to the Panthers, who would begin the ensuing drive on its own 17-yard line. Trailing by two points, the Panthers had a long way to go with four minutes to play, but the Southwestern defense kept them in check.

The Panthers picked up a couple of first downs, but the Warrior defense didn’t break. Southwestern defensive back Josh Walden later came up with an interception on fourth down with 38.5 seconds left, clinching the hard-fought win for the Warriors.

The win over Knox Central was another close call for the Warriors, who have now won their first three games of the year by a combined five points. Southwestern beat Wayne County, 42-41, prior to back-to-back two-point victories over George Rogers Clark and Knox Central.

Knox Central struck first in this one, and in a big way. Brady Worley hit Abram Brock in stride for a 79-yard touchdown pass to take an early, 6-0 lead over the Warriors with 8:32 to go in the opening frame.

Set up by a 64-yard run by Ethan Mills, the Panthers ran their lead out to a 12-0 advantage on a three-yard run from Seth Huff with 11:12 left until halftime. A two-yard touchdown run from Connor Crisp and a two-point run by Giddeon Brainard allowed the Warriors to lessen the Knox Central lead to 12-8 with 4:31 until the intermission.

The Warriors looked like they had taken the lead on a Maison Hibbard touchdown run with just a few seconds remaining in the first half, but the score was wiped off due to a 12-men on the field penalty. After the score was taken off the board, the Panthers went into the locker room with a 12-8 lead over Southwestern.

With 9:52 to go in the third stanza, Brainard trucked his way through the Knox Central defense for a 27-yard touchdown run. Tanner Wright’s two-point run was good, putting the Warriors ahead, 16-12. Knox Central answered that touchdown with a score of their own, as Worley hit Brock for a ten-yard touchdown pass. With a successful two-point try, the Panthers grabbed a 20-16 advantage over the Warriors with 6:43 remaining in the third quarter.

Southwestern finished just shy of 400 yards of total offense, as they racked up 391 yards on the night. The Warriors had 352 rushing yards and 39 passing yards.

Wright led the team in rushing with 144 yards on 23 attempts, putting him at three straight 100-yard rushing performances to begin the 2020 campaign. Brainard hit the century mark in rushing yardage on the night, accumulating 106 yards (15.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns on only seven carries. Crisp finished with 59 yards and a lone score on ten attempts.

Knox Central had a balanced night on offense, tallying 121 rushing yards and 131 passing yards. In total, the Panthers had 252 total yards of offense.

Through the air, Worley was seven of 15 for 131 yards and two touchdowns, which were both hauled in by Brock. Mills led the Panthers in rushing yardage with 89 yards on 12 carries.

Penalties were aplenty in this one, as the teams were penalized a combined 11 times for 115 yards. The Warriors were flagged seven times for 80 yards, while Knox Central was hit with four penalties for 35 yards.

No. 7 Southwestern will begin district play next Friday evening, traveling to London to take on the Jaguars of North Laurel. Knox Central will have an open week before traveling down the road to Corbin on Friday, October 9th.

Follow Michael Childers on Twitter — @MChilders_22

KC - 6 6 8 0 - 20

SW - 0 8 8 6 - 22

RUSHING: (KC) Mills 12 - 89, Huff 11 - 36, Worley 2 - (-4). (SW) Wright 23 - 144, Brainard 7 - 106 2 TD, Crisp 10 - 59 TD, Crabtree 4 - 31, Hibbard 4 - 14, Ian Ware 1 - 0, Ethan Ware 1 - (-2)

PASSING: (KC) Worley 7/15 131 2 TD INT. (SW) Hibbard 4/7 39, Crabtree 0/2 0

RECEIVING: (KC) Brock 3 - 100 2 TD, Barnard 3 - 38, Mills 1 - (-7). (SW) Ian Ware 2 - 23, Wright 1 - 8, Crabtree 1 - 8.

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