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No. 1 Catholic rallies past Ads
Wegzyn to Haun TD pass late keys first-ever Irish win versus FHS


In big football games, the difference usually comes down to execution. At Blaine Stadium on the campus of Knoxville Catholic High School Friday night, Sept. 3, two teams proved that old adage true.

Failing to execute on offense put Class 5A No. 1-ranked KCHS (2-0, 1-0 District 4) in a 12-0 hole at halftime.

Failing to execute three extra points ended up costing the Farragut Admirals (1-2, 0-1 District 4) the game.

In a battle of West Knox County powerhouses, Catholic played nearly flawless football in the second half to come back and take down its neighborhood rival 21-18.

For the second time in two games the Irish, who spread the field with a four-wide receiver set, ran the ball with relative ease, racking up 257 yards on the ground led by sophomore Nolan Coulter's 147-yard effort.

The Irish passing attack bounced back from a shaky first half and senior quarterback Mike Wegzyn ended the night 12 of 31 for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

“All of our coaches were in the locker room, yelling at us pretty good,” senior wide-out Patrick Haun said.

Haun got the Irish going with an acrobatic 33-yard touchdown catch on Catholic's first possession of the second half.


“After all the coaches got done talking to us, I told the guys ‘we are not doing the best job, we need to step it up and play a better game,’ and we went out there and did it,” Haun said.

Senior All-state lineman and UT commitment Kyler Kerbyson gave credit to the coaching staff as well. “The biggest difference was that we got so much motivation from the coaches during halftime, it was great,” Kerbyson said. “They reminded us that we needed to win this game, it was a big game, a district game.”

Catholic head coach Scott Meadows laughed about a motivational speech. “That speech won't be repeated, let's put it that way,” he said. "Our biggest issue was we were not executing, and that's what aggravated me.”

Whatever was said worked.

Down 12-7, Catholic ended the third quarter with an 8-yard run by Nolan Coulter setting up a first-down at the Ads 13-yard line. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Wegzyn was forced from the pocket and fumbled after being hit and Farragut recovered at its own 9.

The Irish defense picked up their strong-armed quarterback and forced a three-and-out, returning the punt to the Irish 46.

After Wegzyn threaded a needle to senior receiver Michael Bonfini on third-and-seven, Coulter took over.

Coulter followed up a seven-yard run with a 33-yard burst, breaking three tackles and leaping a Farragut defender en route to an Irish TD and the first KCHS lead of the night, going up 14-12 when kicker Gabe Saavedra converted his second PAT.

“I can't even tell you what happened on that run,” Coulter said about his touchdown. “I have never done anything like that in practice or anything. The way I felt running into that end zone, seeing the students go crazy, it's why I love this game.”

After Coulter's score, the Admirals took over with more than eight minutes left in the game and went ahead 18-14 with just under six minutes to play.

Starting on its own 19, the Irish offense once again sprang to life. Moving the ball to the Admiral 26 in eight plays was sparked by a third down 19-yard reception by sophomore receiver Terrance Hall.

On third-and-11, Wegzyn hit junior Zach Thomas with a bullet and Thomas did the rest by streaking into the end zone and giving Catholic the lead for good with only 2:38 to play.

“I barely saw the ball,” Thomas said. “Once I bobbled it, I grabbed it, turned around and the touchdown was right there.”

With FHS facing fourth-and-seven with 1:25 left, Irish linebacker Nick Bonfini broke up a Cody Rule pass sealing the first-ever victory for the Irish versus Farragut. “Best play of the game,” Kerbyson said.

Next up for Catholic is long-standing rival Austin-East. The Irish take to the road for the first time this year Friday night Sept. 10. Opening kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

 

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