Friday was a record-breaking night for the Knoxville Panther Football Team at Ken Locke Stadium.
The season came to a close with the Panthers demolishing the Newton Cardinals 41-14 in Class 3A District 7 action.
The win propelled the Panthers to 2-3 in the district and to 6-3 overall. It is the first time the Panthers have won six games in a season since 2005.
As far as the record were concerned Carter Bailey had a night he will never forget. The senior ran for a single game Panther rushing mark of 321 yards on 27 attempts.
The old Panther single game rushing record was 306 yards set by Grant Grgurich back in 2005 in a 53-7 win over Clear Creek-Amana.
Also rewriting the Panther record books was Keegan Cox who picked off his eighth pass of the year. The eight pass interceptions broke a mark established by Randy Rodgers back in 1978, who had seven picks.
The record breaking interception by Cox came with 8:26 left in the game.
The Panthers started fast Friday at home as they drove on their first possession of the night for a score less than two minutes in. It was Bailey on a 9-yard run followed by the Wyatt Darnell PAT kick for a 7-0 lead.
The Cardinals showed they could move the football too. They answered the KHS score with one of their own with 5:48 left in the opening quarter when Dylan Farver scored on an 8-yard counter.
Following the kick by Josh Myer it was 7-7.
Following a Newton punt the Panthers got the ball on their own 4. It was the Carter Bailey show as he had runs of 38, 14, two and five yards eventually for the score to put Knoxville up 14-7 with 8:32 left in the half.
An 11-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Long to Kaleb Dydell tied the game at 14 all with 3:37 left in the opening half.
The rest of the half belonged to the Panthers. The Panthers drove 78 yards to go on top 21-14 with 1:16 left in the half.
Bailey rambled 64 yards to set up the score of 28 yards by quarterback Kieren Nichols.
Newton desperately tried to answer as they moved from their own 20 to the shadows of the Panther goal line. The half ended with the KHS defense coming up big and the Cardinals at the Panther four.
The momentum the Panthers built at the end of the half on both sides of the ball carried over to the second half.
A KHS drive of 63 yards was capped by Bailey scoring on a 25-yard run with 7:39 left in the third. That put the score at 27-14 with the PAT attempt failing.
When the Panthers got the ball back a run of 45 yards by Bailey set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Nichols for a healthy 34-14 lead.
Blaise Hubler recovered a Newton fumble at the Panther 4.
Bailey wrapped up the scoring with 7-yard score with 11 minutes left in the game.
Nichols ran for 93 yards on 14 carries and he was 4-of-6 passing for 22 yards.
Tackle leaders for Knoxville were Logan Clark with eight, Wyatt Darnell six, Nichols six, Ben Olson 8.5 and Brady Pearson with four.
Odds and Ends
Panther assistant coach Chris Hudson was in charge of the team Friday as head coach Eric Kellar was serving a one-game suspension for being ejected from the previous game in Oskaloosa.
Hudson told the team as they gathered after the game, “This will be among the best feelings of your life.”
Shortly after the game Kellar showed up on the field to join in on the fun.
Kellar replied, “I love the game of football. The effort the team put in over the summer really paid off.”
He added, “The records are really exciting and so are the six wins. Keegan deserves the record and Carter Bailey is such a humble guy.”
Keegan Cox stated, “I play free safety, I’m the quarterback of the defense. On the interception that set the record, I was reading their quarterback and stepped in front of a crossing pattern.”
Carter Bailey stated, “Credit the offensive line, they blew open the biggest holes all season.”
Bailey said he was playing in memory of his grandma.
The most yards Bailey had in a game earlier this season was 150 at Centerville.
Bailey ended the 2019 season as Knoxville’s leading rusher totaling 925 yards on 120 attempts.
Final District Football Standings
Class 3A District 7 Dist All
Pella 5-0 7-2
Oskaloosa 4-1 6-3
Grinnell 3-2 6-3
Knoxville 2-3 6-3
Newton 1-4 3-6
Souh Tama 0-5 0-9