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Big play, strong defense is winning combination for CovCath in district seeding game against Cooper

By Matthew Dietz
NKyTribune sports reporter

An 89-yard scoring play a few minutes before halftime gave Covington Catholic the lead and its defensive unit protected it to come away with a 14-7 victory over Cooper in the first Class 5A district seeding game for both teams on Friday in Union.

On a second-down play from the 11-yard line, CovCath junior quarterback Evan Pitzer found junior running back Owen Leen in the open field and he scored on a pass-and-run play that covered 89 yards.

CovCath quarterback Evan Pitzer threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Cooper. (File photo by Dale Dawn)

The extra-point kick by sophomore Andrew Weitzel gave the Colonels a 14-7 lead with 4:30 left in the second quarter and the score remained the same for the rest of the night.

Cooper’s offense did reach the red zone in the third quarter on a 39-yard pass from freshman quarterback Cam O’Hara to sophomore receiver Isaiah Johnson.

But CovCath’s defense forced two pass incompletions that led to a turnover on downs with just over a minute remaining in the period.

Following a Cooper punt with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, the Colonels took over at their own 43-yard line and ran out the rest of the clock behind Pitzer and Leen.

The game ended with Pitzer taking a knee at the Cooper 1-yard line.

It was the fifth consecutive win for the Colonels (5-1), who have held their last four opponents to 14 points or less. Cooper’s record dropped to 2-3 following its sixth consecutive loss to the Colonels.

CovCath totaled 301 yards on offense (206 passing, 95 rushing) in Friday’s victory. Pitzer was 7-for-14 passing with Leen catching two passes for 113 yards. Leen also rushed for a team-high 69 yards on 21 carries.

For the Jaguars, O’Hara completed 12 of 20 passes for 120 yards, but the team was limited to 28 net yards rushing by CovCath’s defense that had five tackles for a loss and one quarterback sack. Eli White, who entered the game averaging more than 100 rushing yards per game, had just 34 yards on 12 carries. O’Hara ended up with negative 16 yards rushing.

After a punt and an interception on their first two offensive possessions, the Colonels struck first when Pitzer found junior Noah Johnson for a 23-yard touchdown pass. The Jaguars tied the score midway through the second quarter on a 3-yard TD pass from O’Hara to sophomore tight end Austin Alexander, who had six receptions for 41 yards in the loss.

It was a defensive battle after that other than the 89-yard touchdown pass that decided the winner.

CovCath’s defensive leaders were sophomore Tate Kruer with 8.5 tackles and senior Aiden Jones with seven tackles, three for a loss, and one sack. Cooper linebacker Jack Lonaker, who was averaging 17 tackles per game to lead the state, had 11 against CovCath to give him 79 in five games for a 15.8 average.

COVCATH   7  7  0  0 — 14
COOPER     0  7  0  0 — 7
COVC — Johnson 23 pass from Pitzer (Weitzel kick)
COOP — Alexander 3 pass from O’Hara (Taylor kick)
COVC — Leen 89 pass from Pitzer (Weitzel kick)
RECORDS: CovCath 5-1, Cooper 2-3.

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