BOWLING GREEN, Ky - The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds came up one game short in their bid for a repeat as Kentucky Class 2A state champions as they were defeated by the DeSales Colts 34-26 on Saturday at Feix Field, Houchens/LT Smith Stadium.
After scoring 34 or more points in eight straight contests and winning nine straight games, NewCath’s (10-5) offense sputtered at times on this Saturday. The Thoroughbreds failed to lead at any point of the game and were outgained in total yards by 428 to 369 by DeSales.
In the end, a sixth state championship eluded NCC because they could stop DeSales’ Dylan Byrd. The senior entered the game with 34 touchdowns and earned MVP honors by rushing for 142 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns and also caught a pair of passes for 45 yards and another score.
The Colts got on the board first scoring when Nathan Roush passed for a 3-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter.
Jacob Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 53 yards to give Newport Central Catholic great field position on its first drive of the game. Then a key fourth-down conversion on a run by Jack Sutkamp kept the drive going. Sutkamp finished things off a couple plays later when he took a 17-yard run to the house to knot the game at 7-7.
Things tightened up on defense a bit after that as the teams traded possessions. That would change with 7:58 left in the first half as the Colts went up 14-7 on a 30-yard TD pass from Roush to Byrd. Roush got DeSales off to a hot start by completing four of his first six passes for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Thoroughbreds once again responded when senior quarterback Mac Franzen connected with classmate Tommy Donnelly on 63-yard TD strike. A botched snap on the PAT though prevented the ‘Breds from tying things up as they trailed 14-13.
Byrd added a 6-yard run scoring run three minutes later to give the Colts a 21-13 edge. A glaring stat on the halftime stat sheet was third-down conversions. DeSales converted seven of eight of their chances, while NewCath was just 1-for-4 on third down.
The Breds drove inside the red zone on their opening drive of the half before turning it over on downs inside the 10-yard line. Byrd and the Colts would make them pay. The senior scored his third touchdown of the day moments later on a 73-yard touchdown run as DeSales went up by 15 points.
For a moment it appeared as if NewCath had an answer as Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to the end zone, but a holding penalty nullified the touchdown. NCC never recovered. The two sides would trade scores before NewCath cut it to a one-possession game on Donnelly’s second receiving TD of the game in the game’s final 90 seconds to take it to 34-26. However, a bid for an onside kick came up short and DeSales ran out the clock.
Donnelly caught 9 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Franzen was 16-of-28 passing for 318 yards and 3 TDs. Jacob Smith carried 16 times for 56 yards and caught four passes for 57 yards. Sutkamp had 14.5 tackles, including 3 tackles for loss, to go along with his rushing TD in the loss.
The win gave DeSales its first state championship. NewCath failed in its attempt to repeat for the second time in school history. Their loss also snapped a streak of three straight Class 2A state champions from Northern Kentucky. They won the state title in 2010 and 2012. Holy Cross won it in 2011.
FINAL STATS (from KHSAA.org)