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Irish flex muscles late at LC; Maryville next

LENOIR CITY — Sometimes the sting of a big loss can linger.

Knoxville Catholic lost for the first time in seven years last week to Webb and there appeared to be a little carry-over effect when the Irish traveled to Lenoir City Friday night, Oct. 2.

No. 9 state-ranked in Class 5A, Catholic (3-2, 2-1 in District 4-AAA) was able to knock loose the cobwebs on its way to a 30-13 win in a game that started out a little too close for comfort.

With 4:50 remaining in the first quarter the Irish were down 7-0 while going three-and-out on their first two possessions.

But Tyler Williamson’s 53-yard pass to Spencer Mackle preceded three punishing runs by senior standout Dorian Cozart. Williamson put the Irish on the board with a bootleg.

The Catholic defense stood its ground and a 38-yard touchdown pass from Williamson to Patrick Haun followed. “We had a 6-yard hitch-and-go,” Haun said. “Before the play Tyler [Williamson] told me he had me on this, and we went with it. The corner bit and he threw a beautiful pass.”

The Panthers responded with a 9-play, 80-yard drive and scored on a 42-yard strike. But a missed extra point kept KCHS up 14-13.

Senior Andrew Kropilak returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards. Cody Shirley, who combined with Cozart for 229 yards rushing, scored from 25-yards. “Our offensive line helps a lot, the holes were huge,” said Shirley, who ended with 13 rushes for 132 yards.

“Our coaches did a great job preparing us for this week. I am proud of our guys,” senior lineman Zak Tait said.

The final Irish drive of the first half covered 69 yards, all of them on the ground, ending when Cozart pounded in from the 1, making it 27-13 at the half.

The only Panther threat in the second half ended with a Williamson interception.

The Irish now prepare for perennial powerhouse Maryville, No. 5-ranked in Class 6A. “We know what’s coming, we know it’s a big one,” Tait said. Opening kickoff is 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, in KCHS’s Blaine Stadium.


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