By John Stepp For the Times-Tribune
The Knox Central Panthers advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 41-20 victory over the Mercer County Titans. The Panthers were powered by a strong running game that totaled 439 yards, with most of those yards coming from star running backs Jeffrey Canady and Jonathon Gist. Canady rushed for 231 yards on 27 carries, with five total touchdowns, while Gist added 162 yards on 20 carries, with one score.
“(Jeffrey) had a heck of a ball game and (Gist) ran hard,” said Knox Central Coach Scottie Russell. “I tell you what, the offensive line did some great blocking for us tonight. That is what we’ve focused on, and that is what we have to do to win these ball games, and they came through for us tonight.”
The Panthers raced to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter, and never looked back. Mercer scored their first touchdown with 4:43 left in the first half, but Knox Central’s Devin Evans found Canady in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown to push the Panthers’ lead to 28-7 at the half.
The Titans managed only 150 yards of total offense in the first halfßß with most of those coming on their one scoring drive.
“Our defense played good and solid. Other than a couple mistakes here and there, and us having to play some young kids tonight, our defense came through,” said Russell.
Both teams added two touchdowns each in the second half, with Mercer County never closing the gap.
With the win, Knox Central advances to the second round of the playoffs, and will travel to Lexington Catholic next Friday.
“We know Catholic is explosive. I’ve not seen them much since their quarterback has been out, but we know they are a very good football team,” said Russell.