COVINGTON — North Knox's football team faced a better version of itself Saturday.
Rensselaer Central's power running game, paced by Dylan Kidd's four touchdowns and 167 yards rushing, was too much for the Warriors to handle in the Bombers' 35-19 victory.
Quarterback Reece Hammelman had a part of all three scores for North Knox (2-2), hitting Zach Boyles and Holtman Doades on passes of 27 and 23 yards. He also amassed a team-high 110 yards rushing and tallied on a 5-yard scamper.
Despite the loss, the Warriors benefitted greatly by just playing. Their game with Pike Central on Friday was cancelled when the Chargers had players with the coronavirus. Rensselaer Central (3-3) came through on Friday morning to fill in, and the schools, which are three hours apart, played at a neutral site.
Although the margin was two touchdowns, it's the closest game North Knox has played this year. The Warriors lost by 29 in the opener to Sullivan, defeated Eastern Greene by 41, took two weeks off because of their own COVID-19 issues, then hammered North Central by 45.
"We needed this game badly. Our kids gave great effort, but some of our issues at times is that we haven't played enough football this year," North Knox coach Josh Chambers said. "But I appreciate that Rensselaer played the game because no football is bad football. Our kids are going to watch film of this game and are going to get better."
The Bombers amassed 374 of their 443 yards rushing and accumulated 25 first downs. Addison Wilmington joined Kidd in the 100-yard parade, going for 122 and the team's other score.
"They're tough kids who play a tough brand of football. It's easy to explain why they won. They beat us at the point of attack," Chambers said.
Despite Rensselaer's dominant run game, North Knox had chances in each half to make it interesting.
The Warriors scored touchdowns the first two times they had the ball after intermission, benefitting from a Beau Noland catch of an on-sides kick and Doades' 72-yard kickoff return to set up great field position.
Major back-to-back Bombers penalties allowed North Knox to go 50 yards in just four plays, ending with Doades' catch near the right end zone pylon. The junior's long kickoff return allowed the Warriors to start their next drive on Rensselaer's 23. Three plays later Hammelman waltzed in with his running score.
That cut the Bombers' edge to 28-19 with 11:12 remaining. But Rensselaer had also scored on its first two second-half drives and tacked on a third to put the game out of reach.
The Bombers went 60 yards in 12 plays and Kidd plowed in from the 1 to take the margin to 16 with just 4:39 showing.
"We had a big letdown defensively in the third quarter, and that was the difference in the game," Chambers said. "They came out just firing in the second half, and we were a step behind. We started to slow them down, but we could have done some things to help ourselves too that we didn't. We have things we need to work on to get better at."
North Knox never led, but tied the game at 7-7 when Boyles caught a fourth down-and-14 pass from Hammelman and made a shifty move to cover the 27 yards.
The Warriors stopped the Bombers on their next drive and with the help of a Hammelman 36-yard run, got inside Rensselaer's 30. A holding penalty pushed them back but North Knox tried to sustain its momentum by going for it on fourth-and-20.
Hammelman's pass went incomplete and the Bombers responded with a 58-yard drive, ending on Kidd's 27-yard TD reception from Tate Drone. They took the 14-7 lead into intermission.
Each team had two turnovers, with the Warriors' miscues coming one play after forcing a turnover both times.
North Knox plays at Linton at 7 p.m. Friday.
RENSSELAER CENTRAL 35, NORTH KNOX 19
First downs |25 |9
Passing (C-A-I) |6-12-0 |3-14-1
Passing yards |69 |57
Total yards |443 |214
Fumbles-lost |2-2 |1-1
Penalties-yards |8-85 |4-30
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Rensselaer Central |7-7-14-7 — 35
North Knox |0-7-6-6 — 19
RC — Dylan Kidd 2 run (Luke Dixon kick) 3:39 1st qtr.
NK — Zach Boyles 27 pass from Reece Hammelman (Holtman Doades kick) 10:01 2nd qtr.
RC — Kidd 27 pass from Tate Drone (Dixon kick) 2:16 2nd qtr.
RC — Kidd 11 run (Dixon kick) 8:17 3rd qtr.
NK — Doades 23 pass from Hammelman (kick failed) 6:13 3rd qtr.
RC — Addison Wilmington 3 run (Dixon kick) 1:15 3rd qtr.
NK — Hammelman 5 run (pass failed) 11:12 4th qtr.
RC — Kidd 1 run (Dixon kick) 4:39 4th qtr.
RUSHING — Rensselaer: Kidd 25-167 (4 TDs), Wilmington 17-122 (TD), Chaz Mullins 2-21, Dalton Kidd 4-17, Kelton Hesson 5-17, Lorenzo Ramirez 1-12, Colton Metzger 1-4, Drone 2-4. North Knox: Hammelman 12-110 (TD), Rhett Sheren 10-33, Doades 5-14, Boyles 1-0.
PASSING — Rensselaer: Drone 6-12-0, 69 (TD). North Knox: Hammelman 3-14-1, 57 (2 TDs).
RECEIVING — Rensselaer: Dy. Kidd 2-29 (TD), Hesson 2-22, Wilmington 1-11, Ryan Stokes 1-7. North Knox: Boyles 1-27 (TD), Doades 1-23 (TD), Levi Brocksmith 1-7.