- Special Sections
- Public Notices
By JOSH CLAYWELL firstname.lastname@example.org
FORT KNOX — First-year Fort Knox coach Brandon Combs will get to see tonight just how well his Eagles can bounce back from a loss.
Coming off a 46-14 loss to longtime rival LaRue County in the third annual Coach Joe Jaggers Classic at North Hardin last weekend, Fort Knox hosts Hart County at 8 tonight at McAdams Field.
“This week we focused on staying focused and weathering the storm in the game when things aren’t going right,” Combs said. “We had chances to get out of the storm against LaRue County, but we didn’t seize those chances.”
The Hawks (1-0) raced out to a 26-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Fort Knox scored with 6:24 left in the second quarter as freshman Quency Brown returned a fumble 38 yards for a touchdown, but that was as close as the Eagles would get.
LaRue County tacked on three more touchdowns before Fort Knox scored late in the fourth quarter.
“We look pretty good, to be honest with you. The kids are pretty upbeat,” Combs said. “Last week the kids had issues with playing fast in the game against LaRue County. And that’s one of our focuses this week, is playing fast. That’s one of our strengths and we didn’t use that at all last week.”
Combs hopes to see more of that speed this week against the Raiders (1-0), who are coming off a 41-12 win over Breckinridge County.
Hart County beat Fort Knox, 18-7 last season in Munfordville.
“If we play our ‘A’ game, it should be a real good game,” Combs said. “Hart County is very similar to us. They run the same offense we do, but they like to do a lot of different things. Defensively they bring the heat, and so do we.”
Both teams run a variation of the Tony Franklin spread offense, but the Raiders like to run the ball more.
Quarterback Austin Green completed 25-of-44 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns, while being intercepted once against the Fighting Tigers.
Running back Justin Thornton rushed 10 times for 93 yards and a score, while Hunter Smith had seven carries for 54 yards and a touchdown. Zack Burba rushed five times for 49 yards and Green had 22 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
“They like to run the ball out of the spread, almost like West Virginia,” Combs said. “They’ll run first, and then throw it. They’ll throw the screens, the hitches and the speed outs. They’ll throw it deep just to keep you honest.”
Fort Knox junior quarterback Scott Hubner completed 25-of-51 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown. Hubner was intercepted three times and had 12 passes dropped by his receivers.
“Scott looks good, he looks real good,” Combs said. “He understands the mistakes he made, and they weren’t really bad mistakes. He just kind of forced some things and hurried some things. For example, when we’re trying to run a screen he was trying to play-fake too quickly, and it wasn’t biting the linebackers in which hurts us.
“He knew that he needed to be a little more patient and he needs to understand that there’s always going to be pressure.”
To help ease that pressure, Combs said, the Eagles must develop a stronger ground game.
Against LaRue County, Fort Knox was limited to minus-18 yards rushing, while the Hawks amassed 260 yards.
“We throw about 80 percent of the time and run it a little bit. One of the things we have to establish in the game, and that’s another thing we need to work on, is our running game,” Combs said. “That’s something I was disappointed in because the guys were coming in high and the running backs weren’t hitting their holes. That’s something we’ve got to overcome.”
Fort Knox is now 1-31 in its last 32 games, including a 22-game losing streak.
Combs feels if his team can eliminate the mistakes it made last week, the streak could come to an end tonight.
“They still believe. They know that hard work and determination is eventually going to pay off,” Combs said. “I think they’ll respond real well. It’s the first home game and I think the kids are hyped up for it.
“I want to say without a shadow of doubt, but at the same time it just depends on the kids. They still have to figure out how to win. I can only lead them to the direction they want to go, but they have to go out and perform.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752