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Saturday, October 11, 2014

How did the Fireman's Bell Turn out last night?

Allen Ramsey Photo. Newport Central Catholic running back Jacob Smith (3) scores a 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter of Friday's game against Newport. Smith rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in NewCath's 15th straight win over Newport.
Allen Ramsey Photo. Newport Central Catholic senior Logan Neff (53) puts pressure on Newport punter Kameron Covington (42) in Friday's game. The Thoroughbreds won 22-17 to move to 2-0 in District 6-2A action.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

NEWPORT – The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football team faced two big challenges on Friday.

They were the pouring rain and an improved and determined host Newport Wildcat squad. While the Thoroughbreds did not finish their in-town rivals the way they wanted, they came through with a 22-17 District 6-2A victory. NewCath (2-4) moved to 2-0 in district play and Newport (3-4) fell to 1-1.

NewCath has not lost a district contest since 2006, which marked the last year of four classes in Kentucky. The Thoroughbreds moved to 26-0 in district contests since 2007 when Kentucky expanded to six classes. NewCath also moved to 459-343-10 all-time including 300-173-4 against Northern Kentucky teams.

The Thoroughbreds put themselves in great position to win their 10th straight district championship with the win now that every other district opponent has at least one loss. NewCath’s lone remaining district contests are against Bishop Brossart (1-4 overall, 0-2 district) and Covington Holy Cross (1-6, 1-1).

Newport outgained NewCath, 303-268 in total offense. But the Thoroughbred defense held up on fourth down a couple times including the last drive. The Thoroughbreds forced Newport quarterback Paul Price out of bounds short of a first down with 23.6 seconds left in the game before running out the clock.

“Give Newport credit,” said Dan Wagner, NewCath Head Coach. “They have a nice football team. Stats don’t really matter. The only thing that matters is (the) 22-17 (score). I thought the offensive line early in the game and at the end got after it well.”

Penalties also made a huge difference. Newport had 14 for 90 yards and NewCath recorded eight for 74. There was jawing going on in the game, but Wagner said the staff will do what it takes to correct that after the play finishes.

“We’re putting that on our seniors and they’re supposed to be leaders,” Wagner said. “Our seniors should not even begin to jaw. They should take care of each other and pull people away. Sometimes, we didn’t do that (Friday). I was a little disappointed in that. Number one, there are obviously penalties. Number two, you’re not thinking about what you’re doing the next play because you’re worried about what the guy over there is doing. You can’t control the other guy. We’ll keep harping more.”

Turnovers also made a difference in the rain. Newport lost two fumbles and threw an interception while NewCath lost one fumble. The one Newport fumble did not count as a turnover because it happened on a two-point conversion run.

Seniors Colin Hoover and Brent Moore had fumble recoveries for the Thoroughbreds and junior defensive back Erik Anderson recorded his team-high third interception for NewCath.

“I made this comment to them before the game,” said Dave Schneider, NewCath Offensive Coordinator. “We want to be cautious and protect the football, but we don’t want to play scared. We did a pretty good job with the football.”

Both teams struck to the ground game in the rain. NewCath outrushed Newport, 204-187 rushing the ball. Junior Jacob Smith had 26 carries for 177 yards and two touchdowns, but John Harris added 13 rushes for 34 yards and a touchdown often picking up crucial short-yardage first downs.

“It always starts with the big fellows up front,” Harris said. “The way they block really opens up the holes for us and makes our job easy. It feels great running behind them. Then we always fight for yardage.”

The Thoroughbreds knew they had to contain Newport’s tandem of Price and running back Dominic Joseph. Price finished with 100 yards rushing on 19 carries and completed 10-of-19 passes for 116 yards. Joseph finished with 58 yards rushing on 18 carries.

Price’s leading target was junior Ryan Ochoa. He had four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.

“(Price and Joseh) are big guys and quick,” Moore said. “They know to run the ball and pound. You have to hit them well and try to hold on.”

NewCath quarterback Patrick Henschen only threw the ball nine times completing it six times for 64 yards. Nate Enslen led the Thoroughbred wide receivers with two catches for 21 yards and Harris had a crucial catch for 16 yards on a scoring drive.

Both teams scored on their opening drives. Smith took a handoff up the middle and bounced to the right for a 36-yard touchdown just 1:38 into the game. Ryan Hans made the extra-point try to give NewCath a 7-0 advantage.

But Newport responded with its own drive. With 6:13 left in the first quarter, Tyree Bolden scored and Price ran in the two-point conversion to put the Wildcats up 8-7.

The Thoroughbreds did not take the lead for good until 10:42 remained in the first half. Smith bounced right and cut back to the middle for a 12-yard touchdown and Henschen completed the two-point conversion pass to Brandon Gray to give NewCath a 15-8 advantage. Smith had a 17-yard screen pass on the drive.

The Wildcats trimmed the margin to 15-11 at halftime. They hit a 28-yard field goal with .8 seconds left.

Neither team scored in the third quarter. But Harris had a 1-yard run with 10:13 left in the game to put the Thoroughbreds up 22-11. Smith had 16 and 38-yard runs on the drive.

NewCath tried to run out the clock after receiving the ball back. But Josh Mullins recovered a Thoroughbred fumble on the NewCath 45 with 4:55 left in the game.

The Wildcats cashed in on the turnover. Price completed a 24-yard pass to Ochoa with 3:56 left to cut the margin to 22-17.

NewCath had to punt the ball back to Newport with 2:21 remaining. The Wildcats started the drive from their 11.

NewCath has won the Fireman’s Bell 15 straight years dating back to 1999. The Thoroughbreds lead the all-time series, 42-18-1.

NewCath takes on Bishop Brossart on Thursday. Game time is 7 p.m. at Newport Stadium.

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