By GAVIN LAPAILLE
Gold Standard Sports Editor
D’Andre Mitchell may have a new pre-game meal.
Mitchell ate pasta on the eve of the Fort Knox Eagles matchup with the Shawnee Golden Eagles because his mom thought it would make him play better. Mom must know best. Fort Knox (1-3) got their first win of the season Friday in their Class 2-A, District 4 opener, defeating Shawnee (2-2) 34-21. The win was cemented by a 53-yard touchdown run by Mitchell in the fourth quarter.
“We played fast and we played hard,” Mitchell said, who finished with 82 yards on five carries. “Other people said we can’t beat them. We proved them wrong and came out on top.”
The game was tied at 15 after the end of the third quarter before Fort Knox exploded for three touchdowns in the final 12 minutes. Freshman Deonza Irving scored on an 11-yard run to put the Eagles up for good with 11:42 in the fourth quarter, and Mitchell broke through for his long touchdown run with just over seven minutes remaining, giving Fort Knox a two possession lead.
Shawnee kept it interesting late, cutting the deficit to 28-21 thanks to a seven-yard run by Patrick Gatson with 5:39 left. The Eagles answered on their next drive however, punctuated by a nine-yard run by sophomore Cameron Pelligrino for the game’s final score.
“They overcame adversity,” Fort Knox head coach Brandon Combs said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a few times and instead of hanging our heads we kept pushing and pushing. That was huge for us.”
Fort Knox powered through Shawnee for 349 rushing yards, led by Irving’s 134 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Eli Escoffery added 103 yards and a touchdown, while Pelligrino contributed 53 yards and a score.
The win snaps a 12 game losing streak for the Eagles dating back to last season, with the last victory coming against Hart County on Aug. 24, 2012. The 34 points are the most the Eagles have scored since putting 40 on the board against Shawnee in 2011.
“This whole week started right,” Escoffery said after the game “We had some of the best practices we’ve had all year. Friday we came together as a team. We bought in and did our jobs. Nobody tried to be the hero.”
With the victory, the Eagles could position themselves to grab a playoff spot for the first time since 2010. The next five games on the schedule are all district opponents, starting with a home game against the Bardstown Tigers Friday that will serve as homecoming for the Eagles.
After facing the Tigers, the Eagles host DeSales, then travel to Christian Academy, Thomas Nelson and Washington County to wrap up district play. Bardstown, DeSales and Christian Academy are ranked amongst the top ten teams in the state and are a combined 11-0.
“I want to set us up to get into the playoffs,” Combs said. “We have a rough few weeks ahead of us but we’re going to go at it in practice like we’re going to win all three of them.”
Students have been celebrating homecoming all week, with each day designated with a different theme. Neon Day, Superhero Day and Blast from the Past Day are some of the activities Fort Knox have enjoyed leading up to School-Spirit Day Friday.
“We’re trying to get the kids prepared for a big game,” Combs said. “We have alumni coming in, and hopefully that will get them pumped up for Bardstown. “
The Tigers (3-0) enter averaging nearly 40 points a contest in wins over Green County, Marion County and Nelson County. Last season the Tigers defeated the Eagles 40-0.
“They are physical,” Combs said. “They try to make plays and punch you. It’s one of those things we’ll have to be ready for that type of game and not let it be a shock when they play fast. “
Irving said the team is confident after their performance against Shawnee.
“We said we were going to win and we did,” Irving said. “We’re going to do it again next game.”