CHARLOTTESVILLE — Two schools located just seven miles apart are expected to own a heated rivalry.
Eastern Hancock, however, showed why it has had the upper hand against Knightstown the past three seasons as the Class 2A No. 2 Royals cruised to a 53-28 win Friday at Ed Knarr Field.
Sophomore quarterback Jarett Lewis threw five touchdowns and ran for one more to seal the win for Eastern Hancock.
The victory gives the Royals a 5-0 start for the time since 2013, when they made the IHSAA state finals. In a matter of just five weeks, the team has gone from receiving votes in the The Associated Press poll, to one of the top teams in its class.
The Royals are 4-0 in the Mid-Indiana Football Conference. The loss drops Knightstown to 1-4 and 0-4 in the MIFC.
Head coach Jim O’Hara won his 102nd career game and is currently 15-3 in his second season as the Royals’ head man. He said, despite the rivalry, a win’s a win.
“We’re close in proximity, and there’s a lot of respect for each other,” O’Hara said. “We’ve been fortunate to be on the winning side of it. It all comes down to fundamentals and understanding your responsibility on each play. Some plays we did great, others not so great.”
Eastern Hancock now owns the overall series 19-16 (30 years) and holds on to the Plowshare and Anvil trophy for another season. Both teams have won it five times apiece.
A slow start haunted the Royals as the first quarter ended with the score tied at 6-all. Junior running back Devin Denny added a 37-yard touchdown run with 8:41 remaining, but that would be all the offense Eastern Hancock could muster in the opening quarter.
A 27-point second quarter changed that dramatically, though, as Lewis threw three different touchdowns to three different receivers. He finished with 110 passing yards in the first half, while Denny added 148 on the ground to give the Royals a commanding 33-6 halftime advantage.
The Panthers came out mad in the second half, though, outscoring Eastern Hancock 22-13 in the third quarter as the teams scored three combined touchdowns in 30 seconds of play in an action-packed quarter.
The final quarter would be the opposite, however, with Lewis adding a 1-yard score as Knightstown would be held scoreless.
Lewis finished with 235 passing yards, while senior receiver Austin Smith finished with 193 receiving yards (10 shy of a school record). Denny added 166 yards on the ground.
Eastern Hancock heads to North Decatur for a Week 5 matchup. The Chargers are currently in second behind the Royals’ in the MIFC standings.