It was by far Knoxville’s best effort of the season but the Panthers were still unable to come away with a win, falling to Fairfield on Friday night 29-28 as heard live on 95.3 KNIA. The start resembled many of Knoxville’s past games and threatened to become a lopsided score when the Trojans scored 14 points in the first ten minutes of the game. But Knoxville responded with a touchdown run from Koby Higginbotham and a two point conversion to make the score 14-8. Knoxville would take the lead at 15-14 when Jay Kellar hauled in the first of his three touchdown receptions to give Knoxville the lead in the 2nd quarter. After Fairfield took the lead back, the Panthers drove the length of the field and Kellar from 14 yards out gave the Panthers the lead back with :04 left in the first half, taking a 22-21 lead into the break. Both teams played to a stalemate in the 3rd quarter, but Fairfield grabbed the lead back and a touchdown and two point conversion to make it 29-22, but Knoxville did not fold, getting a key 3rd down conversion and then a couple of plays later Kellar again from ten yards out to get within one. Knoxville failed on the two point try and could not get into position to score again. Coach Matt Dunkin told KNIA/KRLS Sports this was a good couple of steps forward in the building of the program.

Dunkin: “My biggest thing that I talked to them about is trust in the program. Keep working on the things that were coaching them and teaching them, this takes time, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and get keep working and we’ll get there.”

The Panthers used the air attack for much of the game as Noah Keefer had career highs in passing yards and touchdowns in a game as he was 16/31 for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Kellar caught six of those passes for 98 yards and three scores. Andon Trout led the ground attack with 66 yards and 14 carries and Koby Higginbotham had 106 total yards and a rushing touchdown. Knoxville is now 0-4 and will travel to Creston next week to start district play.

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