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Third-and-long failures key to Catholic playoff loss at Columbia

Three critical third-and-long stops didn't happen for Knoxville Catholic's defense Friday night in Columbia.

Though Columbia Central completed only four passes the entire game, those passes converted key third-and-long situations en route to touchdowns —and victory.

Columbia (10-2), a No. 1 quadrant seed in Class 5A, beat the Irish 34-23 in second-round state playoff action at CCHS Nov. 12.

“We gave up three third-and-15s on three different drives, and on each one of those drives they ended up scoring,” said KCHS head coach Scott Meadows, whose No. 4 quadrant-seeded Irish finish the season 7-5.

“That was a big key for us, right there,” Meadows added. “We gave up some crucial plays in some crucial situations.”

Nolan Coulter's effective running, which included a 6-yard touchdown, kept Catholic close.

“Nolan played fantastic, I think he had a season-high 138 yards rushing,” Meadows said about the sophomore. “He ran incredibly, incredibly hard, broke a lot of tackles. He's going to be a special player by the time he's a senior.”

Freshman receiver/kick returner Vic Wharton “played awfully well,” Meadows said, as Wharton returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. “He made a couple of big catches for us.”

Catholic quarterback Mike Wegzyn “played well,” Meadows said, as the senior completed 9 of 13 passes for 91 yards and one interception.

Trey Leake added a 2-yard TD run for the Irish, while KCHS kicker Gabe Saavedra nailed a 22-yard field goal.

Michael Bonfini bailed out Catholic, after it lost a fumble, by blocking a field goal attempt.


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