BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - Despite going 5-5 in the regular season, the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds found themselves in the KHSAA 2A state title game for the fourth consecutive year. However, NewCath fell short of its sixth trophy, losing to the Mayfield Cardinals 17-7 on Sunday afternoon at Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium on the campus of Western Kentucky University.
“We had a couple things going there early,” NewCath coach Dan Wagner said. “In the second half, we killed ourselves with three turnovers. You can’t do that.”
Both teams got off to a slow start in the first half. It wasn’t until the second quarter when NewCath got within the Mayfield 5-yard line that either team was close to scoring. But a Ryan Hans field goal was blocked by Mayfield, giving the Cardinals the ball on their own 11-yard line with 7:25 left in the second quarter.
Mayfield drove down to the NewCath 1-yard line when a holding penalty pushed them back to the 9. Mayfield kicker Sidney Herndon’s field goal attempt was blocked by NewCath and returned to the Thoroughbred own 35-yard line.
NewCath failed to get any momentum, however, and fumbled the ball on the Mayfield 43-yard line, where the Cardinals took over with 1:36 left in the first half.
Mayfield took the lead late in the half when quarterback Landon Arnett tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Caldwell to give the Cardinals a 7-0 halftime lead.
That lead was extended early in the second quarter when NewCath fumbled a punt return and was picked up by Mayfield’s Keelan Murphy, who took it into the end zone for the touchdown. The Cardinals led 14-0 early in the second half.
“Our kid kinda got caught in a situation and he was trying to get out of the way and he didn’t,” Wagner said. “It was an unfortunate break.”
NewCath showed some fight on its next possession, however, when Patrick Henschen found Trent Wrobleski for a 46-yard touchdown pass to put the Thoroughbred within a touchdown with over 18 minutes left in the game.
After the touchdown, though, NewCath’s offense couldn’t find a groove and ultimately failed to get past the 50-yard line the rest of the game.
Herndon added a field goal for Mayfield to give the Cardinals a 10-point lead. Mayfield thus won its 12th football title, including fourth in a row. Mayfield won the past three 1A championships before making the move to 2A.
Henschen led the NewCath passing game, going 10-for-18, 136 yards and a touchdown. He was only sacked once. Landon Arnett led Mayfield passing, going 17-for-35, 208 yards and a touchdown.
NewCath’s Jacob Smith couldn’t find room to run throughout the game, finishing with 24 touches for 60 yards. Mayfield’s Trajon Bright led the Cardinals backfield with 23 touches on 42 yards.
Wagner says this loss was tough, but the team will be back at it this week preparing for next season.
“These kids know what it takes, they’ve been around a while,” Wagner said. “I guarantee you a lot of those kids will be in that weight room on Wednesday. They’ll be working their tail end off.”
NewCath will return quarterback Patrick Henschen and leading receiver Trent Wrobleski for 2016, when the Thoroughbred will look to return to the 2A state title game for a fifth consecutive year.