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Weathering late rally, No. 1 Irish edge old rival A-E

It looked like “throwback night” at Knoxville Catholic’s Blaine Stadium Friday night, Sept. 11.

Austin-East came calling and though this was no longer a district game, old rivalries die hard. Fortunately for KCHS the outcome was familiar, a 30-28 win.

The state’s No. 1-ranked Class 5A Irish (3-1) took a 7-0 lead on the strength of a 9-play, 68-yard opening drive and blocked punt, which was returned for a touchdown. Senior running back Dorian Cozart carried the ball four times for 46 yards on the drive, and quarterback Tyler Williamson scored on the next play.

Austin-East’s first possession stalled after five plays and John McDermott blocked the Roadrunners’ punt. Jake McElligot took the blocked ball 25 yards to make it 14-0 in the first quarter.

Up 14-6, the Irish offense dominated the rest of the half but settled for two Luke Mishu field goals. “We played well in the first half, but again we are still making costly mistakes,” Williamson said.

After an A-E touchdown making it 20-12, Cozart rushed for 61 yards in two plays but the Irish were forced to settle for another Mishu field goal, a 26-yarder, making it 23-12.

Catholic head coach Scott Meadows said Cozart was eager to make a big play. “Dorian had a tremendous night again,” he said. “We changed up the blocking a little bit at halftime and Dorian was asking for the ball.”

Cozart would end the night with 18 rushes for 161 yards.

Cozart ran for 23, then after overcoming penalties a 38-yard pass to Jake Faris was key to the next KCHS scoring drive.

Faris, who was out all of last year with a knee injury, said, “I have waited so long for this, it’s just great to be back. The line did a stellar job of blocking and Tyler was just on the money.”

Cody Shirley’s 11-yard TD made it 30-20. “I just saw a crease ... Michael Bonfini, he sealed the corner and I was able to cut it off of him,” Shirley said.

An A-E 80-yard scoring drive cut the lead to 30-28 with 9:01 remaining, but Spencer Mackle’a interception with nine seconds remaining seal the Irish win.

Next up for the Irish is William Blount, where Meadows coached prior to arriving at KCHS.

Opening kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., Friday Sept. 18, at Blaine Stadium.
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