A furious fourth quarter rally enabled the Knoxville Panther 2019 football team to claim a wild 31-21 win over the Chariton Chargers.
The win pushes the KHS mark to 4-0 for the year. The last time the Panthers were 4-0 in football was back in 1990.
The Chargers, who entered the game with a balanced attack offensively, left Ken Locke Stadium with a record of 2-2.
Knoxville scored first Friday on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kieren Nichols to Keegan Cox in the first quarter for a 7-0 advantage.
The Chargers found the airways to be their liking against the Panthers.
Chariton led 14-7 at halftime.
Knoxville kicked a 35-yard Wyatt Darnell field goal in the third to put the score at 14-10 after three.
The Chargers scored early in the fourth on yet another touchdown pass to go up 21-10 with around 11 minutes left to be played.
The Chariton scores were touchdown passes to Dylan Cain and a pair to Jackson Curnutte.
Charger quarterback Graden Arnold was 10-of-16 passing for 205 yards and three scores. He was also picked off twice.
Arnold might have shined early, but when things started to look bleak, it was showdown for Nichols at quarterback and the rest of the offense.
The Panther defense stifled the Chargers the rest of the way in the fourth to give the offense plenty of chances.
A Keegan Cox 4-yard run put the Panthers within striking distance at 21-17.
Perhaps the biggest offensive play of the game for the Panthers was Nichols dashing 53-yards for a score to put Knoxville ahead 24-21 following the Darnell PAT kick.
Carter Bailey sealed the KHS win with a score from 2-yards out with around a minute left on the clock to make the final 31-21.
It was Nichols was the glaring offensive statistics for the Panthers. He was 9-of-17 passing for 117 yards and one score.
Nichols added 132 yards rushing on 17 attempts and a score.
Cox netted 37 yards rushing and Bailey totaled 33 for the Panthers.
Bailey, Cox and Mike Hudson each caught three passes for the Panthers.
Knoxville won the turnover battle 2 to 1. Knoxville threw one pass interception, but made up for it with a pair of interceptions of their own.
KHS interceptions were by Keegan Cox and Wyatt Darnell.
Top tacklers for the black and gold were Ben Olson with 10 stops and Logan Clark with five.
Next came Ian Crossett and Blaise Hubler with 4.5 each, Hudson with 3.5, Ben Brewster, Darnell and Brady Pearson each had a hand in three tackles.
Panther Coach Eric Kellar stated, “We had talked prior to the game about how we would respond if we faced adversity. We ran into a really good Chariton team and battled back in the fourth quarter.”
He added, “We shut down their run game and made them throw, and their quarterback was up to the task. Our defensive backs were in really good position most of the night, but Chariton’s receivers made some nice plays. “
“My staff did a great job preparing our kids last week, and we felt like we executed our game plan pretty well. That was a big win for us, and I’m proud of the effort and toughness of our guys.”
Knoxville carries the 4-0 record into Pella Friday evening to face the Dutch at 7:30 p.m.
Pella checks into the game with a mark of 2-2.
Pella Athletic Director Dale Otte notes that the Freshman/JV game will start at 5:15 p.m. and the quarters will be shortened.
Gates will open in Pella Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Odds and Ends
The last time the Panthers were 5-0 to start a season was in 1975 when the Panthers completed a 9-0 campaign.
Homecoming will be Oct. 11
The Knoxville Panthers will be the last team in Marion County to conduct Homecoming festivities this fall.
The Panther Homecoming contest is set for Friday, Oct. 11 when they face the South Tama Trojans at Ken Locke Stadium.
Kickoff for Homecoming is slated for 7 p.m.