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Rushing, defense lead Irish blowout of Fulton

It took all of 4:08 for Knoxville Catholic High School (8-0, 5-0) to define the game against region 2-3A foe Fulton on the road Friday night, Oct. 17.

In those four minutes, Catholic’s stubborn defense gave a little and then dealt a mighty blow. The state’s No. 2-ranked Irish gave up two first downs in five plays until senior standout Jordan Howanitz ended the drive with an interception.

Once it took possession of the ball, the Catholic offense wasted no time, moving the ball 53 yards in 53 seconds to take a 7-0 lead. From there it was a steady dose of déjà vu until the final score read 28-3 Irish.

Junior running back Dorian Cozart ran for 127 yards and his counterpart, Howanitz, punched in four TD runs as the one-two punch of the Irish running game dominated the Falcons’ defense. “We finally played one game with all our backs in there,” head coach Mark Pemberton said. Referring to his running game, Pemberton added, “I think we are going to continue to get better as we go.”

The Irish offensive line, which has created huge holes all season long, continued that pattern tonight, and Cozart was quick to point out roles the big guys played. “Oh man, they did an excellent job again tonight,” he said. “Starting on the first drive they set the tone, we tried to hand it to Fulton and let them know what we are about.”

On first-and-10 from the Fulton 24 an Irish fumble was recovered by Fulton. During the runback Fulton fumbled, recovered again, then fumbled one more time, ultimately resulting in a Catholic recovery at the Falcon 33.

Two plays later the Irish running back tandem hit the Falcons with a 12-yard run from Cozart, and 21-yard touchdown run from Howanitz. After Jarrod Julies added the point, KCHS led 14-0.

Senior linebacker and defensive firestarter Luke Smith said after the game, “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but we forced a lot of turnovers, which was a big thing. Nick Branum had an interception, Jordan [Howanitz] had an interception, and we recovered a couple of fumbles. Points on the board are what matter, and in the end we only allowed three.”

With 5:41 remaining in the first half, lightning would strike again as Smith forced a fumble.

The Irish took over and executed an 8-play, 56-yard drive capped off by an 8-yard run by Howanitz, and a 21-3 halftime lead.

With less than two minutes remaining in the quarter, Branum returned an interception to the Fulton 20.

Continuing with its steady dose of alternating Cozart and Howanitz, KCHS ran the ball five times, the last a 2-yard bull rush by Howantiz for his fourth score of the night and a 28-3 lead.

Speaking to the value of having a healthy Cozart in the game, Pemberton said, “He [Cozart] adds another dimension to us, all the load isn’t on Jordan now, we can give it to Dorian and he does a great job.”

Junior standout Spencer Mackle suffered a hip-pointer and did not play most of the game. Asked if he would be healthy for next week’s game, Mackle said, “I should be good ...”

About’s Mackle’s injury, Pemberton said, “Those things are hard to get over, he’ll be sore tomorrow, but hopefully he’ll be back because we have a big ball game next week.”

Next up for Catholic is KCHS Homecoming and a chance to clinch region 2-3A with a win against Kingston.

Opening kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24.


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