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Govs start quick, hold off late Irish rush at KCHS

A dreadful first half and an inspired rival doomed the Knoxville Catholic Fighting Irish football team on Friday Sept. 16 when the Governors of William Blount came calling to Blaine Stadium.

The Govs (1-4, 1-1) held the Irish (2-2, 0-2) to 13 offensive plays and 43 total yards during the first half and dominated every aspect of the game.

Two missed field goals kept the game in reach and despite a valiant second half effort lead by the running of junior Nolan Coulter, Catholic could not overcome the sluggish start and would drop its second game in a row 21-17.

Coulter was held to 12 rushing yards in the first half. “We got beat in the first half, they put us in a corner and beat us,” said Coulter, “we went into the locker room and had an attitude change. As for what was said, I will just leave it at ‘no comment.’”

The Irish hole got deeper after William Blount’s opening drive in the second half. After freshman cornerback Jordan Anderson broke up a third down pass in the end zone the Govs were forced to kick a field goal and increased their lead to 13-0.

Things went from bad to worse when the Irish botched the kickoff and William Blount recovered an unplanned onsides kick setting the Governors up at the Irish 30-yardline.

Two plays later Catholic finally caught a break. Jordan Anderson struck again, this time intercepting a Hunter Saunders pass and the Irish were reborn.

Catholic put together a 6-play, 86-yard drive which included a 63-yard reception by freshman Logan Lacey. Irish quarterback Matt Armstrong (6-of-12, 112 yards) hit the wide open Lacey in-stride and were looking at first and goal from the 9-yardline.

Two plays later junior running back Cole Lombardo went off-tackle for a score and suddenly the Irish had grabbed hold of some much needed momentum.

Catholic appeared to recover a planned onsides kick, but were flagged for kick catch interference.

Undeterred, the Irish defense wasted no time. On the next play they forced and recovered a fumble and then Nolan Coulter went to work.

On the second play of the drive Coulter caught the corner and turned on the jets and completed a 55-yard run to tie the game.

Gabe Saavedra broke the tie by hitting the extra point and the Irish found themselves in the lead 14-13.

“We made some adjustments,” said Meadows, “we felt we could hurt them on the edge because they were taking away our trap and our inside game with Nolan. The guys on the corner made some good blocks and Nolan hit the hole and ran it well.”

Coulter ran for 158 yards in the second half to end the game with a season high 170 yards rushing on 18 carries.

Down for the first time all night the Govs responded. They put together an 8-play, 72 yard drive and took the lead with 45 seconds left in the third quarter on a 9-yard Greg Cook touchdown run. Their 2-point try was successful and the Irish were down 7 with the whole fourth quarter to play.

Catholic then engineered a 15-play drive and were set up with a first-and-goal from the WB 5-yardline. But two costly penalties and three incomplete passes forced the Irish to settle for a 38-yard Gabe Saavedra field goal with just over 5 minutes left to play.

The Irish defense held the Govs to a three-and-out and the WB punt was downed at the Irish 32-yardline.

The Irish moved efficiently up the field. Coulter ran for 27-yards on the first two plays and the Irish were into WB territory.

Armstrong hit junior Hayden Varner across the middle for 20-yards. Varner took a big hit from three William Blount defenders but kept possession for the first down at the 25.

Catholic got as close as WB 15-yardline when disaster struck. A sack forced a fumble and the Govs recovered with less than a minute remaining. Two snaps of the ball later the clock ran out and the Irish comeback hopes were dashed.

“They (William Blount) came out and hit us in the mouth,” said Meadows, “I didn’t like the way we responded. We are going to have to put this game behind us. We are going to have to learn from it, get better from it, and put it behind us.”

The Irish will need to put it behind them quickly. They have a short week and will face arch-rival Webb on Thursday night Sept. 22 for the “Battle of the Bluff” at Faust Field. Kick-off is set for 7:00.


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