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Friday Football Roundup: Holy Cross upsets NewCath, 26-21, in Class 2A regional final


Holy Cross players pose for photos while hoisting the regional championship trophy. (Photo by Mary Lynn Lampke)

The NKyTribune will be providing focused coverage of NKY high school football throughout the season, thanks to support from St. Elizabeth Healthcare Sports Medicine. See all of our pre-season features on each of NKY’s 21 high school football teams and follow our coverage, including roundups each week at Northern Kentucky High School Football.

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Holy Cross senior running back Xavier Abernathy had a dream-come-true look in his eyes as he talked with reporters after his team upset Newport Central Catholic, 26-21, in the regional final round of the Class 2A playoffs on Friday at Newport Stadium.

“I can’t believe it,” he said “It’s about to bring me to tears because we’ve been trying for the last three years. We went 1-9 and 1-9 and 6-6 and now we’re regional champions. I can’t even fathom it. It’s a beautiful thing, that’s all I can say.”


Holy Cross running back Xavier Abernathy, right, finds an opening created by his team’s offensive line. (Photo by Mary Lynn Lampke)

NewCath had won the regional title the last four years and the Thoroughbreds were expected to win it again Friday since they had beaten Holy Cross, 21-0, in a regular season game six weeks ago. But the Indians ran the ball and played defense much better in the rematch than they did in the previous encounter.

“We knew it was in us, we just had to get it out,” Holy Cross coach Bruce Kozerski said of his team’s performance. “They really played their guts out. I give them all the credit in the world.”

With less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Holy Cross defense stopped NewCath on a fourth-down play at the 1-yard line to maintain its five-point lead. Then the Indians literally ran down the clock by steadily moving the ball up the field with Abernathy or Derrick Barnes carrying the ball.

NewCath came up with a fumble with 10 seconds left on the clock, but Holy Cross intercepted a long desperation pass down field as time expired.

Abernathy ended up rushing for a game-high 152 yards and Barnes picked up 131 to account for 283 of their team’s 323 offensive total.

“Coach told me before the game it’s going to be me and Derrick,” Abernathy said. “He said we’re going to run the ball and we have to believe in our line, and we did. We followed our line and we ran the ball at them.”

Barnes, who took snaps directly from center on several plays, scored his team’s first touchdown on a 56-yard breakaway run in the final seconds of the first quarter. A few minutes later, he picked off a pass while playing linebacker and returned it 41 yards for another touchdown that put the Indians ahead, 16-14, and they stayed on top the rest of the way.

“This is the best feeling I’ve had in my life,” Barnes said of the win. “I owe it to my teammates. We had each others’ back. That’s all there is to it. If you believe in your teammates, anything is possible.”

NewCath had trouble moving the ball after taking a 14-2 lead in the first quarter. Senior quarterback Pat Henschen threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 61 yards and one TD. But he lost a fumble, had two passes intercepted and missed the mark on 15 of his 28 throws.

“Once we started getting pressure on (Henschen) and forcing him out of the pocket it made it a little more difficult for them,” Kozerski said. “He’s the guy who ran away from us the first game and we couldn’t get a handle on him. This time, we slowed him down just enough.”

Holy Cross (10-3) will go to Danville (11-2) next Friday for a state semifinal game. The winner will play in the Class 2A state championship game on Dec. 4 at Western Kentucky University.

NEWCATH       14  0  0   7 — 21
HOLY CROSS    9  7  7  3 — 26

NCC — Henschen 1 run (Otten kick)
HC — Safety: Intentional grounding on pass under pressure from end zone
NCC — Moeves 28 pass from Henschen (Otten kick)
HC — Barnes 56 run (Hobbs kick)
HC — Barnes 41 interception return (Hobbs kick)
HC — Abernathy 15 run (Hobbs kick)
HC — Finnell 31 FG
NCC — Wrobleski 20 pass from Henschen (Otten kick)

Beechwood 42, Kentucky Country Day 7

Beechwood rushed for 345 yards and six touchdowns in the regional championship game and advances to the semifinals of the Class A playoffs for the ninth time in the last 10 years under coach Noel Rash.

The Tigers (11-1) will play a home game against Russellville (11-1) next Friday with the winner advancing to the state championship final on Dec. 2 at Western Kentucky University.

Running backs Aiden Justice, Trevor Soward and James Davis each scored twice for the Tigers in Friday’s win. Justice was the leading rusher with 169 yards on 21 carries. Davis picked up 119 yards on nine carries, including a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Beechwood’s defense limited Kentucky Country Day to 231 yards and one touchdown. The Bearcats were averaging 339 yards and 42 points coming into the game.

st-e-football-plug-768x249BEECHWOOD             7 7 14 14 — 42
KY COUNTRY DAY     0 7   0   0 — 7

B – Justice 1 run (Mescher kick)
KCD – Johnson 2 run (Wright kick)
B – Soward 1 run (Mescher kick)
B – Justice 18 run (Mescher kick)
B – Davis 18 run (Mescher kick)
B – Soward 20 run (Mescher kick)
B – Davids 51 run (Mescher kick)

Louisville Fern Creek 35, Covington Catholic 28

Covington Catholic had a chance to tie the score in the final seconds of the Class 5A regional final, but the Colonels couldn’t get the ball in the end zone on four plays from inside the 7-yard line.

Fern Creek scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to open up a 35-14 lead. CovCath made a comeback in the fourth quarter with touchdown runs by AJ Mayer and Sam Schuh capping off a pair of seven-play drives that made it 35-28. But the Colonels’ final drive came up short.

The Colonels finished with a 383-304 advantage in total yards. Fern Creek got all of its yardage on the ground with Devin Blincoe picking up 146 and Kyree Hawkins getting 133.

CovCath’s offensive leaders were Mayer with 180 yards passing and Casey McGinness with 122 yards rushing. Jack Coldiron caught six passes for 80 yards.

COVCATH          7   7   0 14 – 28
FERN CREEK     6 8  21   0 – 35

FC – Hawkins 9 run (kick failed)
CC – McGinness 22 run (Kloska kick)
CC – Best 1 run (Kloska kick)
FC – Blincoe 73 run (Hawkins run)
FC – Hawkins 9 run (Oberhausen kick)
FC – Hawkins 25 run (Oberhausen kick)
FC – Durrah 61 punt return (Oberhausen kick)
CC – Mayer 7 run (Kloska kick)
CC – Schuh 13 run (Kloska kick)

Scott County 42, Ryle 40

The Ryle Raiders lost their first game of the season after failing on a two-point conversion attempt with 33 seconds left in the Class 6A regional final.

Stefan Clarkson caught Ryle senior quarterback Tanner Morgan’s fourth touchdown pass of the game to make the score 42-40. But a two-point conversion pass from Easton Pilyer to Jacob Chisholm was no good.

Ryle finished with 465 yards in total offense and Scott County had 444. Each team had one turnover.

Morgan completed 21 of 31 passes for 264 yards in his final high school game for the Raiders. One of his two touchdown passes to Bryce Ashley covered 83 yards. Chisholm rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on a 24-yard pass reception.

Friday’s state semifinal games

Class 1A
Russellville (11-1) at Beechwood (11-1)
Paintsville (12-0) at Hazard (10-2)

Class 2A
Holy Cross (10-3) at Danville (11-2)
Mayfield (13-0) at Christian Academy of Louisville (12-1)

Class 3A
Elizabethtown (10-3) at Louisville Central (8-5)
Corbin (12-1) at Belfry (12-1)

Class 4A
Franklin-Simpson (13-0) at John Hardin (9-4)
Wayne County (11-2) at Johnson Central (12-1)

Class 5A
Bowling Green (13-0) at Louisville Fern Creek (11-2)
South Oldham (12-1) at Pulaski County (11-2)

Class 6A
Louisville St. Xavier (10-3) at Louisville Trinity (13-0)
Scott County (11-2) at Lexington Lafayette (12-1)


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