December 4th, 2020

Cougars Fall in State Quarterfinals 42-21

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 

Cougars Fall in State Quarterfinals 42-21
photo by Jeff Woods

Holy Cross’ bid for a second consecutive region title fell short Friday night, as Newport Central Catholic defeated the Cougars 42-21 in the Class A state quarterfinals. The Thoroughbreds outscored the Cougars 21-0 in the fourth quarter, avenging last year’s postseason loss to Holy Cross.


“They might have had a reminder that it was 57 weeks ago we went home sad. And we were going to try to go home happy tonight,” said Newport Central Catholic head coach Stephen Lickert. “We challenged our offensive line that we have to win up front or we’re not going to win. And our guys upfront got after it the whole night. We had a great night running the football. And when you can run the football, you can win in December.”


NewCath senior Joey Runyon ran for an eight-yard touchdown, one of his four on the day, to put the Thoroughbreds on top 28-21 with 10:04 to play. With Lex Thomas on the sideline with an injury, NewCath elected to kick deep for the first time all night on the ensuing kickoff. The strategy worked, as the Cougars started the drive from their six-yard line. They ran three plays and were forced to punt, giving the ball back to NewCath with a short field. The Thoroughbreds scored four plays later to take a two-touchdown lead with less than seven minutes left.


“They were setting us up the entire game. They were pooching and pooching and putting it on the ground,” said Holy Cross head coach Eric Dick. “They caught us off guard. It was a great call by them. We had prepared for it but didn’t think it was coming right there.”


For NewCath, the decision not to kick to Lex Thomas all night was a direct result of what happened in last year’s playoff matchup.


“Last year we were up 10-0. We kicked it to him by accident, he took it back to the 30-yard line and the rest was history,” said Lickert. “We weren’t going to let him beat us again.”


Through three quarters, the Cougars and Thoroughbreds matched each other blow for blow, as the fourth quarter started all square at 21-21. However, NewCath’s work in the trenches paid large dividends in the fourth quarter.


“That’s a great football team. They’re big and they’re physical. I think the size and them just bearing down on us, hitting us over and over, I think it finally just wore on us,” said Dick.


The highlight of the night for the Cougars came in the second quarter. Trailing 14-7, senior quarterback Chaz Geraghty threw a backward pass to sophomore Chris Perry, who then threw deep to a wide-open Tate Gaw. Gaw made the grab and sprinted 56 yards for the touchdown, tying the game 14-all before halftime.


The Cougars’ season ends with a final record of 7-2. They reached the state quarterfinals in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2010-11. Holy Cross may have fallen short of its ultimate goal, but the success of the program over the past two years can’t be denied.


“We fought the odds all year,” said Dick. “We weren’t the biggest, we weren’t the fastest. They got told a lot there’s no way they could do what last year’s team did because of how big we were up front and the guys we were missing. For these kids to go out week in and week out and put it all on the line for us and this community, I love them.”


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