Gavin Montalvo

Knoxville's Gavin Montalvo (9) sees an open running lane.

FT. MADISON — Knoxville was smelling a potential playoff upset at halftime, but it was Fort Madison coming out strong in the second half to pull away from the Panthers for a 45-7 win.

Knoxville entered the game as heavy underdogs, but the Panthers were hanging around after Keegan Cox’s two-yard rushing touchdown cut the deficit to 17-7 at the half.

But after 116 yards of rushing in the first half, Fort Madison pulled out the clamps and limited the Panthers to just 24 rushing yards in the second half.

And after holding the Bloodhound offense at bay and forcing two turnovers, Fort Madison would score on their final four possessions to pull away and outscore Knoxville 28-0 in the second half.

Cox led the Knoxville rushing attack with 48 yards on 13 carries with one TD. Tristin DeJong ran for 47 yards on 11 carries while Gavin Montalvo had 42 yards on nine carries.

Kieren Nichols was limited offensively with eight carries going for 10 yards while completing one of his five passes for one yard.

Defensively, Logan Clark led the charge with eight tackles while Cox and Michael Greubel both recovered fumbles.

Knoxville finishes the 2020 season with a 1-7 record. Fort Madison advances to face Grinnell in the second round.

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.

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