November 11th, 2017

Cougars bow out against KCD

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

Cougars bow out against KCD
Holy Cross prepares for a KCD snap / photo by Eric Thorne

In many ways, Holy Cross’ 32-7 loss to host Kentucky Country Day on Friday night in the second round of the Class A Russell Athletics/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl mirrored its season. The Cougars played with their usual tremendous passion, but struggled to gain positive traction.

Holy Cross lost two of its first three games; won the next two, before dropping three straight. They rallied to win the following three including last week’s first round victory at Ludlow before bowing out of the playoffs against the host Bearcats.

“I can’t say enough about what an amazing group of kids they were this season,” Cougar coach Bob Bronger said. “These seniors on the team showed so much leadership and they model how to play the game with class, and how you should treat your teammates.”

Penalties and untimely turnovers hurt the Cougars who finished the season 6-6 and took nearly three quarters to complete a pass.

Jaren McDonald was chased out of the pocket much of the night, and completed just two of eight passes for eight yards.

Despite the effort the Cougars could not keep up with KCD who outgained Holy Cross in total offense 324-250 including Ashton Robinson who scored two touchdowns and ran for 118 yards on 14 carries.

“I hate that it had to end this way and this was a great group of seniors I was lucky to play with, but in the end they just out manned us tonight,” junior Gavin Foushee said. “They were physical. We played our hardest, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. We just couldn’t get in any rhythm.”

The Cougars did get valiant efforts from two of their seniors as Mario Convenuto rushed 21 times for 91 yards and a touchdown while completing both of his pass attempts for 49 yards. Demetrius Dillard carried 8 times for 73 yards.

“We just couldn’t seem to get the ball in the end zone,” Convenuto said. “I think we were in the red zone like three times, and we got some good drives but just couldn’t capitalize. On any team when you get going and then have penalties it makes it tough to get started going again.”

KCD (11-1) scored on its opening possession when Blake Caldwell scored on a 9-yard run with 6:37 left in the opening quarter, but Michael Wright’s kick was no good.

Holy Cross then went on a 14 play drive to the KCD 25 that ended with three consecutive incompletions from McDonald.

The Cougar defense held and forced a punt, only to fumble on the first play at the 13-yard line. Chris Scott picked it up and ran it in for the score with 3:03 left in the half. Wright’s kick made it 13-0.

The spiral continued on the ensuing drive where the Cougars marched to the KCD 38 only to have the drive stall on a sack and a punt that traveled just six yards.

Robinson ran in for a 9-yard touchdown with: 17.4 seconds left in the half and the Bearcats led 19-0.

“You know its 6-0 then we fumble and give it to them close to the end zone, and you aren’t going to keep those guys out,” Bronger said. “Then we give them a short punt and they scored and suddenly its 19-0. We moved the ball, but then we would have a bad penalty or bad snap and something would go wrong to put us back. We’re not a team that can overcome a penalty. If we are in a flow and moving then everything’s good. We just aren’t a team that recovers.”

KCD took its opening possession of the second half and went 65 yards capped off with Robinson rushing in from 17-yards out and Wright’s kick made it 26-0 with 7:40 left in the third quarter.

Holy Cross failed to score with a first and goal at the KCD 4-yard line, but forced a fumble on the Bearcats next play with Convenuto coming up with the ball.

Three plays later Convenuto lept over the line for a touchdown with 8:36 left in the game. Zachery Meiman kicked the extra point pulling the Cougars within 26-7.

“For this season and my career I have learned so much because Holy Cross is such a great school,” Convenuto said. “Over the years I’ve gone through two head coaches and I can never thank them enough except to come back after college and help them out. I think one of my best memories will be the late game win last week at Ludlow and what a tremendous feeling it was for my team to help lead me to that win.”

Holy Cross tried an onside kick, something they were successful with twice the last time the teams met in the regular season, but it was recovered by KCD’s Nick Smith.

The Bearcats opted to go for more points only to have Robinson stopped at the goal line. However, he proceeded to slam the ball down in celebration and was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty. KCD came right back and quarterback Jackson Diaz scored on a two-yard run with 3:44 left.

Diaz completed 7 of 18 passes for 75 yards and one interception.

For Dillard, despite the mental errors and the miscues his team struggled with against KCD, the senior wouldn’t trade his Holy Cross experience.

“They just outmatched us tonight, but these young sophomores and juniors if they put the work in the weight room and make that commitment then they will get them back next year,” Dillard said. “All the credit to KCD they played hard tonight and deserved it.”

Dillard added that playing for a small school has made him a better player because you aren’t able to hide, and are always accountable to your teammates with just 36 players.

“I don’t look at the record, but I look at the overall experience because being a four year started I’ve gotten to experience more than a lot of people get to,” Dillard said. “I’m going to miss this, but I wouldn’t want to do it with any other group of guys.”


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