CENTERBURG – At various points of Friday night’s Knox Morrow Athletic Conference contest, Centerburg appeared to be a play away from falling to East Knox for a fourth consecutive year.
But the Trojans made enough plays at the end to emerge with a 35-28 victory in double overtime over the Bulldogs. The win leaves Centerburg as the last remaining undefeated team in the KMAC.
“(East Knox) has been at the top of our league for the last few years,” Centerburg coach Andy Colella said. “They’re super-experienced; they’ve won a lot of football games. I’m happy for our seniors – they’ve never beat East Knox before. So, it’s pretty cool.”
Donnell Marshall scampered through a hole up the middle that he described as, “as big as the Grand Canyon” to score the game-winner from 20 yards out in the second overtime.
“I’ll give all the credit to the linemen,” Marshall said. “They did a great job. The hole was just huge.”
Centerburg’s defense held a stout East Knox rushing attack to just 41 yards on 38 carries. But it was three incompletions, including one on the final play that helped the Trojans preserve the victory.
The Bulldogs could have put the Trojans away in regulation. East Knox got as close as Centerburg’s 15 before sacks by Alex Johnson and Ian McKnight stalled the drive. The latter came as time expired.
Ethan Barton came up with a tackle of East Knox’s Ian Toller for a loss of 2 yards on a fourth-and-1 play near midfield. That play set plus a John Sheasby 12-yard run set up a Tyler Johnson 4-yard touchdown to tie the game 21-21 with 7 minutes left in regulation.
Shane Knepp intercepted Centerburg quarterback Jack Gregory at the midway point of the third quarter with the Bulldogs holding a 21-14 lead.
But two plays later, Sheasby returned the favor by picking off East Knox’s Peyton Lester.
“(Centerburg) just played hard,” East Knox coach Cody Reese said. “They had a great game plan, defensively. Offensively, we didn’t execute as well as we should have. But we just weren’t able to move the football and get a score when we really needed to.”
Marshall’s touchdown served as the first and only time Centerburg held the lead.
“We just had to keep pushing through,” Marshall said. “We couldn’t let ourselves get discouraged. We just had to remember that whoever wants it most, gets it.”
East Knox served up a gut punch on the game’s fourth play from scrimmage when Lester found Braden Kannady on a fly route down the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 10:08 left in the first quarter.
Marshall finished with 90 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and Sheasby ran 11 times for 63 yards and two scores, including one in the first overtime.
Tyler Johnson also scored two touchdowns and Alex Johnson added 103 yards receiving on seven catches.
Trey Kendrick had 7.5 tackles, four for loss and three sacks for the Trojans (3-0, 2-0).
Lester threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns, completing 20 of 34 passes. Kannady caught four passes for 86 yards and the score and Knepp had five catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Chase Darr also had an interception for the Bulldogs (2-1, 2-1).
“There’s two ways go,” Reese said. “You can dwell on it and feel sorry for yourselves or you can get back up and get back to work and see if you can … improve, move forward together as a unit and work our tails off to get better.”
East Knox led 14-7, 21-14 and 28-21, but never could add on. Conversely, Centerburg always came back for the tying score, but couldn’t get over the hump … until the end.