By Terry Boehmker
PARK HILLS, Ky. – Scoring two touchdowns before the offensive unit even took the field ignited an explosive Covington Catholic football team that defeated Dixie Heights, 41-7, on Saturday in a Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown game.
In the first four minutes, Lee McClure returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown and Logan McDowell scored on a 79-yard punt return to give CovCath a quick 13-0 lead.
Then CovCath’s offense went to work, scoring four touchdowns and picking up 308 total yards to post its second impressive victory of the new season.
“I knew we were going to be a really tough offense and put big points on the board,” said CovCath senior quarterback Adam Wagner. “We’re just really solid on offense, so we’re going to be dangerous.”
Wagner injured his knee in last year’s game against Dixie Heights and sat out most of the 2013 season. He admitted to being “a little bit nervous” going into Saturday’s game because of that, but it didn’t show. He completed 17 of 29 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a team-high 46 yards and one TD.
But it was McDowell who received CovCath’s most valuable player award from the game sponsors. In addition to scoring on the punt return, he caught a TD pass and threw a TD pass on an option reverse play.
“I feel there’s not many teams that are going to be able to stop our offense,” McDowell said. “I mean, we have backups who can come in that are just as good as us (starters). There’s not much of a letdown after we start subbing in people.”
CovCath’s depth was a factor in the game, according to Dixie Heights coach Dave Brossart. His team has several two-way starters on offense and defense while CovCath mostly has a two-platoon system.
And falling behind 13-0 in the opening minutes forced the Dixie Heights starters to expend a lot of energy in the first half just trying to stay in the game.
“Things could’ve went differently early on, but they didn’t, and that’s football,” Brossart said. “I‘m proud of our kids. I thought they played hard. We’ve got guys playing both 'O' and 'D' (offense and defense) and they battled the whole game.”
Dixie Heights senior quarterback Drew Moore scored his team’s only touchdown on a 2-yard run that cut CovCath’s lead to 20-7 with 3:53 left in the second quarter. But CovCath came right back with an 84-yard scoring drive that ended with McDowell catching a 13-yard pass from Wagner.
“That (touchdown) right before the half was big,” said CovCath coach Dave Wirth. “I thought we lost some of the momentum when it was 20-7 and we desperately needed to get it back. Momentum, as we all know, is a big thing in this sport. If you can get it and hold on to it, it’s a great thing.”
McClure caught a 15-yard pass from Wagner in the third quarter to extend CovCath’s lead to 34-7. The Colonels’ final touchdown was McDowell’s 42-yard pass to Jake Erpenbeck on the option reverse play.
“Me and Mitchell Rensing, we always switch back and forth on that reverse pass,” McDowell said. “They called me out there to do it and I just threw it as far as a I could and got it to Jake.”
Dixie Heights finished with 267 total yards. Moore accounted for much of it by rushing for 68 yards on 16 carries and completing 6 of 21 passes for 54 yards before being replaced late in the fourth quarter.
“We were never able to get any flow in our offense at all, because of penalties and getting down so early,” coach Brossart said. “We had our first four or five drives scripted and then being down (13-0) it changed all of our preparation.”
CovCath’s defense had one quarterback sack and seven tackles for a loss during the game. The team’s leading tackler was senior defensive back Alex Wagner with 10 solo and one assisted tackle.
D. HEIGHTS 0-7-0-0–7
at COVCATH 20-7-7-7–41
CC–McClure 73 punt return (Hornsby kick)
CC--McDowell 79 punt return (run failed)
CC--Wagner 2 run (Hornsby kick)
DH--Moore 2 run (Schulte kick)
CC--McDowell 13 pass from Wagner (Hornsby kick)
CC--McClure 15 pass from Wagner (Hornsby kick)
CC--Erpenbeck 42 yard pass from McDowell (Hornsby kick)
RECORDS: CovCath 2-0, Dixie Heights 0-1.