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'That was a battle': Covington Catholic defeats Highlands 35-21 in the annual rivalry

Week 2 news and notes from Greater Cincinnati high school football
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Posted at 1:05 PM, Aug 26, 2023

FORT THOMAS, Ky. — The Covington Catholic football team will remember several pivotal moments during its win at Highlands Friday night.

But, there wasn't a more significant play than senior wide receiver Braylen Miller's 9-yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback Evan Pitzer with just one second before halftime.

"It changed the energy," Miller said. "It changed the momentum so much."

Trailing 14-6 late in the second quarter, Pitzer took the shotgun snap and threw to a leaping Miller, who in one motion quickly turned to his right with the defender on his back past the goal-line. Pitzer ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14 at halftime.

The Colonels never trailed again in a 35-21 win over the Bluebirds.

"That was a battle; that was a fight," CovCath coach Eddie Eviston said. "I liked the way our guys handled themselves and very proud of them."

Pitzer, who was 19 of 28 passing for three touchdowns and rushed for an early score, connected with senior tight end Willie Rodriguez for an 8-yard score with 4:01 left in the third quarter. That occurred just three plays after Miller caught a 16-yard reception on third down.

Miller, who also had an interception in the game, had six receptions for 65 yards while Rodriguez — a University of Kentucky verbal commit — had four receptions for 53 yards.

Sophomore Cash Harney's 40-yard interception for a touchdown less than two minutes later helped to give the Colonels a 28-14 advantage. Pitzer later connected with senior tailback Owen Leen for a 8-yard score with 9:33 left in the fourth quarter.

A year after Highlands snapped CovCath's nine-game win streak in the rivalry in Park Hills, it was the Colonels who were victorious on the Bluebirds' home field.

"I think it's a great building block," Pitzer said. "That's a great team with a great program. And we came out and did our jobs. It turned out good for us on the scoreboard."

Highlands senior quarterback Brody Benke was 13 of 16 passing and rushed 14 times for 153 yards including a 75-yard touchdown run. Senior running back Cameron Giesler had 11 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

CovCath (2-0) and Highlands (1-1) won't play each other this postseason due to the Colonels being Class 4A and the Bluebirds as a Class 5A program.

Still, it had significant playoff implications by impacting the RPIalong with bragging rights in the rivalry.

"We'll enjoy it but we'll get ready for next week and work toward our end goal, which is a state championship," Pitzer said.

CovCath plays at Simon Kenton Sept. 1, while Highlands plays host to Campbell County.

FRIDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Sycamore defeated host Fairfield 24-21 as the Aviators had 360 yards of total offense and controlled the time of possession by nearly 11 minutes. Sycamore coach Scott Dattilo said he was happy to see the team celebrate after the game especially for the seniors. Sycamore (1-1) had lost 12 consecutive games entering Friday night. Senior quarterback Seth Truter was 9 of 16 passing for a touchdown for the Aviators Friday night. Senior Eugene Harney had 27 carries for 168 yards. Senior Chase Terrell had 10 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown.
  • Withrow defeated Springboro 29-10 for the Tigers' second straight road win to start the season. Junior Quintin Simmons scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half. Senior quarterback Luke Dunn was 16 of 26 passing for 167 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 36-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter. Sophomore linebacker Christion Browner had a game-high 15 tackles. Senior defensive back Chris Payne had 11 tackles. Sophomore Chris Henry Jr. had an 18-yard interception.
  • Princeton has allowed just 10 points through two weeks. The Vikings rallied to defeat host Lakota West 18-3. Sophomore running back David Hambrick rushed for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Andrew Wells had a game-high 12 tackles. Junior PJ Nelson had a 15-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter. Princeton (2-0) plays host to Lakota East (0-2) Sept. 1.
  • East Central senior running back Josh Ringer surpassed the 4,000-yard rushing mark for his career in a 42-7 win over visiting Harrison. Ringer, a Miami University verbal commit, has 4,100 yards rushing which is fourth-most in program history, according to East Central statistician Andrew Shaver. Ringer had 18 carries for 182 yards and three touchdowns. He also had three punts for 134 yards (44.7 yards average). Ringer needs six more rushing touchdowns for the most rushing touchdowns in school history, according to Shaver. Ringer needs 1,609 rushing yards to become school's all-time leader. He needs 33 points to become the school leader in points scored.
    Senior Brayden Rouse had nine tackles including a sack, a forced fumble and a pick-6. East Central (2-0) plays host to Moeller (1-1) Sept. 1.
  • Moeller sophomore quarterback Matt Ponatoski was 12 of 14 passing for 212 yards and four touchdowns in the Crusaders' 57-0 win over Bishop Dwenger (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Senior running back Jordan Marshall had four carries for 102 yards including a 75-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Senior Preston Smith had a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the first quarter.
  • Middletown is 2-0 for the first time since the 2011 season. The Middies defeated visiting Colerain 20-3. Junior Jeremiah Landers threw for a touchdown and ran for two scores.
  • Hamilton defeated host Lakota East 21-0 as the Big Blue held a three-touchdown lead at halftime. "The defense played well — bent but didn't break," Hamilton coach Arvie Crouch said. "The offense put some drives together." The Hamilton athletic department announced that Friday was Crouch's 100th career win. Hamilton (1-1) plays host to Mason (1-1) on Sept. 1.
  • Elder's senior quarterback Ryan Brass was 11-for-18 passing for 180 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-14 win over visiting Saints Neumann-Goretti (Pa.). He also rushed for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Elder (1-1) plays host to Springboro (0-2) on Sept. 1.
  • Milford senior wide receiver Reece Davis had nine receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-29 win over host Lebanon. He also had an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown. Milford (2-0) is at Loveland (0-2) on Sept. 1.

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