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No. 1 Irish rip Baylor 34-16

Knoxville Catholic head coach Mark Pemberton said last week that Baylor “will be our biggest test yet. They have a great football team.”

By that standard, the undefeated and state’s No. 1-ranked Class 3A Fighting Irish is an amazing football team after rolling over non-region powerhouse Baylor 34-16 on KCHS’s Homecoming Night at Blaine Stadium Friday, Sept. 28.

The first Irish defensive outing set the tone with tackles for losses and an interception from senior defensive back Michael Robins at the Raider 31 yard-line. The offense set the tempo via Zach Vann for a 31-yard touchdown run on its first play, starting off the scoring 7-0 after the Ricardo Martinez extra point. Vann rushed for 113 yards on 12 carries for the season, bringing up his totals to 730 yards on 93 carries for the season.

After the next kickoff, the Irish defense forced a fumble that Jeff Faris recovered on Baylor’s 47 yard-line. This wouldn’t be another score; Baylor’s defense also forced a fumble and recovered on its own 30 yard-line.

The next KCHS score came in the first minute of the second quarter when Matt Pfleger capped a 66-yard drive with a 2-yard punch into the end zone raising the score to 13-0.

Pfleger was ready to play from the beginning of this weeks practice. “We have been pumped up all week for the homecoming game,” Pfleger said “We watched as much game film as we could get our hands on and we came out and made a statement.”

Pfleger also had a spectacular 62-yard touchdown run garnished with a massive one-on-one open field stiff-arm early in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders did manage to get a field goal in the third quarter, and shortly after an interception touchdown return following some questionable calls during a promising Irish drive, made it a close 13-9 game.

The Irish were not done before the half, getting a quick three-and-out forcing a punt. The Irish defense gave the team another chance due to a fumble recovery by Daniel Hood on Baylor’s 35 yard-line with a minute left in the half.

A spectacular 17-yard Eric Lindsey touchdown pass to Ryan Walden raised the score to 20-9 at the end of the half.

The Raiders laid down an impressive passing attack in the second half, gaining 203 passing yards but only scoring one time — at the 8:36 mark in the fourth quarter. Catholic’s defense held strong the rest of the time due to multiple interceptions and fumble recoveries.

Senior linebacker Garrett Trusler had an one interception and nine tackles. “We knew all along that if we played our game we could beat ’em,” Trusler said. “I knew that they were a good team but defensively we came out and set the tempo and that’s why we pulled ahead.”

Safety Erik Lindsey also had an interception to stop one Baylor drive. Senior Dustin Tait led the defense with 10 tackles — driven to play hard for his brother, standout defensive lineman Zak Tait, lost for the season last week with an injury requiring an ambulance trip from the field to the hospital.

Dustin Tait began the game with his brother’s number, 57, and played the game for him. “It feels great to win, and we played through him [Zak] and we defiantly got the job done tonight.” Dustin Tait said.

Catholic plays host to region foe Anderson County (4-1) at Blaine Stadium Friday, Oct 5. Opening kickoff is 7:30 p.m.


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