DANVILLE — The East Knox football team capped off a perfect regular season in style — beating its arch-rival Danville, 41-7, Friday night at Danville.
“Words can’t describe this feeling. This is the third time East Knox has been undefeated and to be a part of that is unbelievable,” said East Knox junior Braden Kannady.
The Bulldogs (10-0 overall, 7-0 Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference) did it with the big play.
Leading just 21-7 at halftime, the Bulldogs scored three quick touchdowns in the third quarter to break the game wide open.
The first score was a methodical, 66-yard, 11-play drive, capped off by a 6-yard run by Caleb Gallwitz.
“That was the big thing. We’ve got to get a stop and they were able to put together a long, five-minute drive,” said Danville coach Ed Honabarger.
Then, lightning struck twice in a hurry.
Kannady picked off a Charlie Cook pass on the next Danville (2-8, 2-5) drive, setting the Bulldogs up at the Danville 45-yard line. The coaches didn’t give him time to breathe, though, calling his number on the very next play.
The junior was wide open and scored on a 45-yard pass from Kadden Lester, turning what had been a close ballgame into a rout.
“I heard them (coaches) call my favorite play. I knew I had to get up and execute it,” Kannady said. “He (the Danville defender) bit on the ball big time and then I got a perfect pass from our quarterback (Lester).”
After a quick three-and-out by the defense, the Bulldogs hit on another big play. This time it was Gallwitz, who romped 69 yards practically untouched for a score. Just 10 minutes into the half and a two-score lead became 41-7.
“That was huge. We were only up two scores at half. To take time off the clock and put up six on the board (on the first drive) was huge,” said East Knox coach Cody Reese. “This is an amazing group of kids. I’m really proud of the boys.”
East Knox was opportunistic on its three first-half drives, scoring on all three. Danville ended the half with a solid drive, capped off with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Cook to Nick O’Dell.
“We did a good job in the first half. They (East Knox) only had three drives. They scored on all of them, but they are capable of putting up 50 points in a half,” Honabarger said. “Then, they started wearing us down with their big bodies. They did what good teams do.”
Gallwitz ended the night with 207 yards rushing and five touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs. He scored on runs of 14, 3, 5, 6 and 69 yards.
Lester completed 10 of 12 passes for 149 yards and one TD. Kannady caught three of those passes for 97 yards and the score, while Gage Steinmetz (22 yards) and Weston Melick (18 yards) also caught three passes.
Danville was led by Cook, who completed 11 of 17 passes for 105 yards. Nick O’Dell caught four passes for 53 yards and a score. Langdon Johnson also caught four passes for 31 yards.
The win gave the Bulldogs their first unbeaten season since 1996 and only third in school history. The back-to-back wins over Danville also hadn’t been accomplished since 1996-97.
The Bulldogs will host a playoff game next Friday in Region 22 of Division VI. They will likely play Crestview.
“There is only 32 teams practicing this (coming) week. The air smells different, everything is different. Hopefully, the boys will buy into it,” Reese said.