Kentucky football state semifinals: NewCath 49, Somerset 48 (2OT)

Missed extra point the difference

By Terry Boehmker

NEWPORT, Ky. – Dan Wagner’s first season as head coach of the Newport Central Catholic football team has been a wild ride, and it isn’t over yet.

In a Class 2A state semifinal game on Friday, NewCath defeated Somerset, 49-48, in a double-overtime thriller to earn a shot at a second straight state title.

VIDEO: See highlights in the player at top.

The Thoroughbreds (10-4) will play Louisville DeSales (13-1) in the Class 2A championship game at noon (ET) Saturday at Western Kentucky University.

With inexperienced players at several key positions, including quarterback, NewCath got off to a disappointing 1-4 start this season. The Thoroughbreds reeled off nine straight victories since then, but Friday’s game against a talented Somerset team was their toughest test of all.

“We knew coming in this was going to be a close game,” Wagner said. “I had my doubts a couple of times, but we were able to hang in there, so you’ve got to give our kids credit.”

In the second overtime, Somerset scored a touchdown but missed the extra-point kick to take a 48-42 lead. 

NewCath tied the score when sophomore running back Jacob Smith carried the ball into the end zone from 2 yards out. That put the pressure on senior placekicker John Caudill, but he converted the extra point to give his team the win.

“I knew it was in,” Caudill said of his game-winning kick. “I don’t know if I can describe the feeling. It was just great.”

As NewCath’s players rushed the field to celebrate the victory, Somerset coach Charles Lucas and his players were trying to come to terms with a  frustrating losing streak.  This is the fourth consecutive year that the Briar Jumpers have been eliminated in the semifinal round of the state playoffs.

“My hat's off to NewCath,” Lucas said. “It was a physical, well-played football game. To have the opportunity to be on the field with a team that plays as hard as NewCath and to be able to match what they do was a good test for our kids.”

Somerset sophomore quarterback Castle Hatcher turned in the game’s most impressive performance, completing 21 of 27 passes for 365 yards and six touchdowns. 

On his team’s final two possessions of their first half, Hatcher threw TD passes to senior teammates Will Lange and Cam Cheuvront that put the visitors ahead, 21-14, at the break.

NewCath regained the lead early in the fourth quarter when senior fullback Jack Sutkamp scored his second consecutive touchdown to make it 28-21.

After both teams scored on their next possession, Hatcher threw his fifth TD pass with 1:57 left in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 35 and send the game into overtime.

But Somerset’s late comeback didn’t seem to shake the confidence of the NewCath players.

“We’ve had a couple games where we’ve been in a fight to the end,” Caudill said. “I knew we could step up to the challenge and come through with the win.”

NewCath had 314 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Mac Franzen completed 12 of 22 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. Smith had three rushing touchdowns and Sutkamp had two.

Smith also picked up 51 yards on a screen pass early in the fourth quarter to keep a scoring drive alive. That was one of the reasons he got the call to carry the ball on the final touchdown that tied the score in the second overtime.

“You saw the way he was running, he was possessed,” Wagner said. “The way he ran the ball, he earned the right.”

The two teams combined for 97 points despite an unusual number of penalties. Officials called 19 penalties for 203 yards.

SOMERSET  6-15-0-14-7-6 – 48
NEWCATH 7-7-7-14-7-7 – 49
S–Lange 17 pass from Hatcher (kick failed)
NCC–Smith 6 run (Caudill kick)
NCC–Donnelly 7 pass from Franzen (Caudill kick)
S–Lange 19 pass from Hatcher (Dobbs pass from Hatcher)
S–Cheuvront 2 pass from Hatcher (Franklin kick)
NCC–Sutkamp 1 run (Caudill kick)
NCC–Sutkamp 3 run (Caudill kick)
S–Cheuvront 60 pass from Hatcher (Franklin kick)
NCC–Donnelly 7 pass from Franzen (Caudill kick)
S–McWilliams 6 pass from Hatcher (Franklin kick)
NCC–Smith 6 run (Caudill kick)
S–Cheuvront 10 pass from Hatcher (Franklin kick)
S–Jones 10 run (kick failed)
NCC–Smith 2 run (Caudill kick)
RECORDS: NewCath 10-4, Somerset 8-5. 

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