By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
After Hunter Stocker hit Dominique Hawkins on a 65-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second half, the Indians looked ready to celebrate a Senior Night victory.
At that point, Madison Central had a seemingly comfortable 29-6 lead.
Then, the momentum started to change.
“We got on them pretty good at halftime and they responded,” Knox Central coach Scott Russell said. “I think the biggest thing was that we needed to get a couple of stops and then the offense started clicking.”
The Panthers roared back, getting three fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie the game. Knox Central then got a 10-yard TD run by Kyle Hammons in overtime that sealed a 44-36 come-from-behind victory Friday in Richmond.
Senior Jeffery Canady had three rushing touchdowns and finished with 212 yards as the Panthers (9-1) defeated Madison Central (6-4) for the second-straight year.
“It’s just depressing to lose a football game like that,” Central coach Bert Browne said.
Senior Dominique Hawkins had four touchdowns (three rushing and one receiving), but the Indians were limited to 90 yards rushing and had two big second-half interceptions.
“Things just started going our way and sometimes that happened,” Russell said. “That momentum gets on your side.”
On their first possession of the second half, the Panthers got a 14-yard TD pass from Matthew Barger to Devon Evans that cut the Central lead to 29-14.
The Indians answered with a 1-yard Hawkins TD run with 1:31 left in the third quarter that pushed the lead back to 22 points.
Knox Central scored on its next three possessions to tie the game — Canady 1-yard run (11:12 left in fourth); Jonathan Gist 19-yard pass from Evans (5:44 left) and Canady 3-yard run (1:01 left).
The Indians stopped Canady on the two-point conversion run on the final touchdown, leaving the score tied at 36.
“They shoved it right down our throat,” Browne said. “They took it right down the field at will.”
Knox Central got the ball first in overtime and scored on the first play as Hammons walked into the end zone almost untouched. Canady added the two-point conversion run.
“I knew we were hitting them and I could tell some of them were feeling it,” Russell said. “It looked like they were getting a little tired.”
Central took a false penalty on its snap of the overtime, then Stocker was sacked for a 5-yard loss.
Facing a 2nd-and-20, Stocker dropped back to pass and was intercepted by Evans.
“We couldn’t run the ball on them,” Browne said. “We just couldn’t. We were just getting killed up front.”
Brandon Parks set the tone for an impressive first half for Central.
The senior defensive lineman blocked a punt and four plays later Hawkins scored his first touchdown, a 6-yard run with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
Ken-Jah Bosley pushed the Central lead to 12-0 when he caught a 27-yard pass from Stocker just more than two minutes into the second quarter.
After Canady busted loose for a 74-yard TD run, the Indians answered right back with a 9-play 62-yard drive that Hawkins capped with a 1-yard run.
With 55 seconds left in the half, Zach Owsley hit a 27-yard field goal that gave Central a 23-6 lead at halftime.
Bosley had 12 catches for 221 yards, pushing him over 1,000 yards receiving on the year. Stocker was 21-of-31 for 348 yards.
Hawkins also had four touchdowns last week in a win over Clark County.
Central lost to Knox Central last year in Barbourville, 26-0.
The Indians are set to open the Class 6A Playoffs next week at home against DuPont Manual.