PARK HILLS, Ky. -- Covington Catholic shook off an early Ryle touchdown, and the explosive Colonels offense was off to the races in a 49-17 win Friday night as CovCath opened Dennis Griffin Stadium under permanent lights for the first time.
AJ Mayer, a Miami University recruit, completed 14 of 23 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and added 18 yards on three carries and two more touchdowns.
"He's the dude," CovCath coach Eddie Eviston said. "He made some bigtime throws tonight."
Mayer and the Colonels reeled off 49 straight points after Ryle took a 7-0 lead on the first play from scrimmage -- a 75-yard swing pass from junior quarterback Jake Smith to senior running back Jake Chisholm.
The Raiders forced CovCath to turn the ball over on downs inside the Ryle 10 on the first CovCath possession after two touchdown runs were called back on holding penalties, but it was all Colonels from that point.
Mayer scored on a 17-yard run to tie it, then he hit a wide-open senior Alex Christmann for a 48-yard touchdown pass for the go-ahead score.
"We haven't beaten Ryle in the three years since I've been in high school," Mayer said. "We wanted to come in with a lot of momentum. We wanted to really beat them.
"Our offensive line came together a bit and we made some plays. The defense made plays and that's all you need."
Mayer scored on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter and added two more touchdown passes before halftime to put the Colonels ahead 42-7 through two quarters. His third touchdown pass was a 4-yard strike to his younger brother, sophomore Michael Mayer.
"It was awesome," AJ Mayer said. "We grew up like that, hoping we could make plays like that in high school together. It's really awesome and a blessing to play with him."
AJ Mayer followed a 4-yard touchdown run by junior Casey McGinness with a 20-yard strike to junior Jack Coldiron to close out the first half.
"We came out ready to play and we executed really well tonight," Eviston said. "Our defense played really well too. Obviously, (the first play) from scrimmage with them, we didn't wrap up and (Chisholm) is darn good. I think our kids realized they had to break down on that guy. They did and the defense played great the rest of the night.
The CovCath defense was stifling after that first play from scrimmage and the Colonels outgained Ryle 398-288 overall, including 267-97 in the air.
"The problem was that we couldn't throw downfield," Ryle coach Mike Engler said. "And when we couldn't throw downfield, they were just teeing off on (Chisholm). Once they figured out we couldn't throw the ball downfield, they were stopping the run. Even a great runner like Chisholm can't do it against eight or nine defenders."
With standout quarterback Tanner Morgan having moved on to Western Michigan, the Raiders turned the offense over to Smith and the junior struggled after the opening play. Smith completed 9 of 15 asses for 100 yards and was replaced by senior Easton Pilyer in the second half.
"We've got a little competition, we'll say that," Engler said.
Pilyer completed 1 of 6 passes for negative-3 yards.
"The defense played well enough to win," Engler said. "We did some good things offensively, but we've got to improve at the quarterback position. Point-blank. We have to improve at the quarterback position and we'll take care of that this week."
Ryle also suffered some key injuries in the first half, including standout offensive tackle Parker Bisek, a Toledo recruit.
AJ Mayer also hobbled off the field in the third quarter one drive after leading the final CovCath scoring drive that ended with a 37-yard run by junior Jacob Shriver. He said he felt fine after the game.
"I was pretty comfortable," AJ Mayer said. "Obviously, I've got a little tweak here, but I'm good."
CovCath will travel to Lexington Catholic next Friday for an 8:45 p.m. kickoff at the Bluegrass Bowl.
"We have plenty to improve," Eviston said. "We need some more guys to step up. We need to get some other guys ready to go so we can add some more depth."
Ryle will also be at the Bluegrass Bowl next week and will try to bounce back against Henry Clay in the 6:15 p.m. game.
"We have to get better," Engler said. "That's about it."