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Irish collapse at West

With the first real chill in the air, the Knoxville Catholic Fighting Irish never got warmed up on Friday night, Oct. 15, in its District 4-AAA road match-up against West at Bill Wilson Field.

The Irish (5-3, 3-2 District 4-AAA) took a 13-3 lead into halftime, a score that was not indicative of how they were playing.

A series of mistakes by West and one big play put the Irish on top, but a dismal second half coupled with intense play by the Rebels doomed Catholic in its 31-19 loss.

The Irish actually benefitted from several Rebel first-half miscues. That included junior Zach Thomas’ recovery of a muffed punt at midfield.

Catholic’s struggling offense managed to move the ball to West 5-yard line in 13 plays before evening the score with a Gabe Saavedra field goal.

The Irish defense, aided by Rebels penalties, played a solid first half while holding the Rebels to a three-and-out on its next possession. As a result, KCHS had the ball with 1:22 remaining in the half.

Senior quarterback Mike Wegzyn connected with Thomas for 50 yards to the West 13. All the Irish could manage from there were three yards and two incomplete passes before settling for Saavedra’s second field goal of the night.

Catholic appeared content to take the 6-3 lead into the break.

West had other plans. The Rebels took the kickoff and moved the ball to the Irish 29 in two plays settling up George Bullock for a 46-yard field goal attempt with only three seconds left in the half.

When the Rebels misplayed the snap, freshman Vic Wharton forced a fumble that was picked up at midfield by Joey Gaston.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound lineman rumbled 50 yards for a momentum-stealing touchdown and a 13-3 halftime lead by the Irish.

Despite what appeared to be a game-changing moment, the Irish offense failed to take advantage of the momentum swing and stagnated during the second half, putting its defense in bad situations the remainder of the night.

Catholic gave up four touchdowns in the second half. Three of the West scoring drives started in Irish territory, including two drives that started at the KCHS 23 after Catholic turnovers.

The only solid drive for the Irish ended with a Wegzyn touchdown pass to fellow senior Michael Bonfini with 1:02 left in the game.

The Irish offense came into the game averaging 354 yards but could only manage 238 total yards against the Rebels. “We were out of sync,” Irish senior All-state lineman Kyler Kerbyson said. “One person was messing up each play. You can’t play with ten, you have to play with eleven.”

Catholic head coach Scott Meadows was a bit more blunt after the game. “They were more physical then we were. They kicked our teeth in. We didn’t do anything offensively.

“We threw awful balls, we missed blocks, we missed holes that were there, we dropped balls,” Meadows added. “We played a whole lot the way we practiced this week.”


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