NEWPORT, Ky. -- Newport Central Catholic advanced to its fourth consecutive 2A state title game in thrilling fashion, scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes after being shut out for the first 43.
That lifted the Thoroughbreds to a 15-7 win over Danville in a Class 2A semifinal at Newport Stadium on a rainy Friday night.
“We started off slow but played good defense the entire ball game,” NewCath coach Dan Wagner said. “We thought we wore them down a bit at the end, we got a little time, were able to throw the ball around, and they were chasing us. It’s a lot harder when you’re chasing somebody.”
The defenses for both teams battled all night. One of the biggest defensive stands of the night was in the first half, when Danville drove down to the NewCath 2-yard line. The Breds were able to stop them, and the Admirals’ field goal attempt hit the right upright and fell straight down, keeping the game scoreless until the third quarter.
Coming out of halftime, both defenses forced punts, which was a theme for most of the night.
Danville got on the board first with a little over six minutes left in the third quarter, when running back Jakobi Turner found the end zone on a 10-yard rush to put the Admirals up, 7-0.
That score stuck until late in the fourth quarter. Starting at its own 17-yard line, the NewCath offense drove 83 yards, capping off the drive with a 5-yard run by Jacob Smith.
Instead of going for the extra point, Wagner decided to go for the two-point conversion and the lead. The conversion was good, and the Breds took their first lead of the game with 2:52 left in the game.
“I told them with seven or eight minutes left that if we scored, we’re going for two so get your two-point play together,” Wagner said.
On the next Admirals possession, quarterback Zack Dampier was picked off by the NewCath defense, which returned it to the Danville 2. Jacob Smith punched the ball into the end zone for a second time in a minute to give NewCath the deciding lead.
Danville attempted to put a drive together in the final minute, but a pass into the end zone as time expired was knocked down by a Breds defender, clinching another 2A title game berth for NewCath.
NewCath quarterback Patrick Henschen is happy to be back in yet another title game.
“It feels great,” Henschen said. “It feels really good.”
Newport Central Catholic will take on Mayfield (13-1) in the 2A KHSAA state championship game next Saturday at 2 p.m. at Houchen/L.T Smith Stadium at Western Kentucky University.
Mayfield defeated last year’s state champion Louisville DeSales 24-19 on Friday night to advance to the title game. DeSales defeated NewCath in last year’s title game.