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Prep Sports Notebook: Scoring surge in second half carries NewCath football team to third straight victory

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Newport Central Catholic scored on its first three offensive possessions of the second half to turn a close game into a 40-21 runaway victory against Walton-Verona on Thursday night in Verona.

It was the first loss of the season for Walton-Verona (3-1) and the third straight victory for NewCath (3-1). The Thoroughbreds finished with 265 total yards that included touchdown runs of 19, 31 and 82 yards by junior Demetrick Welch.

NewCath senior Luke Runyon scored two touchdowns in his team’s win over Walton-Verona.

The other big play for NewCath was an 80-yard kickoff return by senior Luke Runyon that gave his team a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Both teams scored a TD in the second quarter to make it 21-14 at halftime.

Walton-Verona’s first possession in the third quarter ended with a pass interception by NewCath defensive back Matthew Landrum. That turnover led to a 31-yard touchdown run by Welch, who ended up with 149 yards on 10 carries and three pass receptions for 20 yards.

An 8-yard touchdown run by Runyon extended the Thoroughbreds’ lead to 34-14. After the Bearcats turned the ball over on downs, Welch put the game away with his 82-yard TD run.

Walton-Verona had 344 total yards (226 rushing, 118 passing). The team leader was quarterback Jackson Smith, who rushed for 106 yards on 14 carries and scored the Bearcats’ first touchdown on a 72-yard breakaway run. He also completed 4 of 8 passes for 22 yards and one TD.

NewCath quarterback Kolton Smith rushed for 55 yards and one touchdown while completing 6 of 12 passes for 48 yards.

The fourth week of Northern Kentucky high school football continues Friday with 12 games on the schedule, including Simon Kenton (2-1) at Beechwood (3-0) at 7:30 p.m. and Covington Catholic (2-1) at Dixie Heights (2-1) at 7 p.m.

Dayton running back starts strong after missing most of last season

In the opening game of his junior season, Dayton running back Landyn Hopper broke a bone in his foot and never returned to action.

Hopper’s senior season has gotten off to a much better start. He rushed for 662 yards in Dayton’s first three games for a 220.6 average that ranks third in the statewide statistics posted on the khsaa.org website.

After netting 411 yards and five touchdowns in the first two games, Hopper picked up a career-high 251 yards on 18 carriers and scored five times in a 42-14 win at Frankfort Western Hills last Friday.

Northern Kentucky’s second-leading rusher after three games is Beechwood senior Mitchell Berger with 531 yards for a 177 average that ranks seventh in the state. Berger is the state’s leading scorer with 73 points that includes 11 touchdowns, one field goal and four point-after kicks.

The other local players among state leaders are: Cooper linebacker Jack Lonaker, fifth in tackles with 44; Beechwood defensive lineman Xavier Campbell, fifth in quarterback sacks with 5.5; and Highlands kicker Davis Burleigh, second in field goals with five.

Holy Cross returning to All “A” Classic state volleyball tournament

Holy Cross defeated Villa Madonna, 25-12, 25-15, in the 9th Region All “A” Classic volleyball championship game on Wednesday to earn a berth in the small-school state tournament Sept. 16-17 at Eastern Kentucky University.

It was the 11th consecutive victory for the Indians (12-1), who won the September Slam tournament at Scott last weekend. The last time Holy Cross went to the All “A” Classic state tournament was 2019 and that team returned with the championship trophy.

This year’s 16-team state tournament field also includes 10th Region champion Brossart (8-3). The Mustangs are in the same pool as Holy Cross and the two teams with the best records will advance to the championship bracket.

The All “A” Classic state golf tournaments will be played this weekend in Richmond with the girls on Saturday at Arlington Golf Club and the boys on Saturday at Gibson Bay. St. Henry and Brossart are among the boys and girls golf teams that won region championships to advance to the state tournaments.

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