October 10th, 2020

Cougars Win Shootout with Bethlehem 54-43

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 

Cougars Win Shootout with Bethlehem 54-43
photo by Jeff Woods

Holy Cross senior quarterback Chaz Geraghty had the perfect description for how Friday night’s showdown with district rival Bethlehem unfolded.

“It was a track meet, for sure,” he said.


The fourth-ranked Cougars surpassed 50 points for the second straight week, but this time they needed every single one, beating the fifth-ranked Eagles 54-43 in a game where spectators witnessed one big play after another. It all started on the opening kickoff when Bethlehem’s Zane Wickliffe returned the kick 88 yards for a touchdown just seconds into the game.


“Our heads never get down,” said Geraghty. “We fight through adversity, and we keep coming back. That’s what we did offensively and defensively tonight to get the win.”


Geraghty battled through physical adversity for much of the night. In the second quarter, Geraghty stayed down after attempting a tackle and missed several plays. He returned to the game when the Cougars took over on offense, but Geraghty was clearly in discomfort. He went on to score three rushing touchdowns.


“Earlier this week, I pulled something in my hip and glute area. And then on the tackle in the second quarter, I felt it pull even more,” Geraghty said. “It was definitely hurting, but I knew I had to come back out here for my team and dig deep so we could get this win and be in first place in the district.”


“He’s a warrior. I knew that he would be back,” said Holy Cross head coach Eric Dick.


Following the Eagles’ opening touchdown, the Cougars quickly responded with two Lex Thomas scores on back to back drives to take a 13-7 lead. Later in the quarter, Geraghty threw a beautiful 15-yard touchdown pass to Tate Gaw in the back corner of the end zone that would put Holy Cross ahead 19-14.


The scoring was just getting started. Bethlehem junior Ladarion Montgomery accounted for five of the Eagles’ six touchdowns, including runs of 51 and 61 yards in the first half.


“In the first half, we kept trying to tackle these guys high,” said Dick. “(Montgomery) is an animal. You can’t go high. I told them, ‘Guys, we have to go low. Wrap up his legs. We have to stop him early’. He’s a special kid, but we have a bunch of special players over here too.”


Leading 35-21 at halftime, the Cougars received the ball to begin the third quarter. Thomas only needed two plays to run for his fourth touchdown of the night. His 32-yard scamper gave the Cougars a 41-21 edge. Thomas rushed for a season-high 212 yards.


However, Bethlehem answered right back with two Cooper Stone touchdown passes to Montgomery, one for 57 yards and another for 67 yards. With nearly a quarter and a half left to play, the Cougars clung to a 41-35 lead.


“We knew they would strike. They have big-play capability all over the place,” said Dick. “We knew we just had to do our jobs and be where we needed to be.”


Ultimately, the Eagles could not stop the Cougars’ offensive attack.


“I think we were the more physical team tonight, and that’s the reason we won,” said Geraghty, whose eight and nine-yard touchdown runs in the second half preserved the Cougars’ win.


Holy Cross improved to 5-0 on the season with the victory, its best start since 2010, when the Cougars won its first nine games. More importantly, the Cougars now have the inside track for the top seed in Class A, District Two. A win over Campbellsville in two weeks would clinch the regular-season district crown.


“We put ourselves in control of our destiny. That’s what I wanted,” said Dick. “We get to go into a bye week, take care of ourselves, rest our bodies, and just be ready to roll for Campbellsville in two weeks.”




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