Covington Catholic quarterback Evan Pitzer called the play “Throw it up and give Willie a chance.”
Willie, better known as senior Willie Rodriguez, made the absolute most of it. His 21-yard touchdown catch on fourth down with 13 seconds left gave his team Friday’s 31-24 win over Dixie Heights at Dennis Griffin Stadium.
Pitzer said the pass was part of the playbook.
“I felt pressure,” Pitzer said. “That (Dixie defender) had great coverage on Willie, but I’ve got to trust my guy. One-on-one is one-on-none for us. Willie made a great play.”
Rodriguez saw Dixie was playing man-to-man coverage. He caught the ball on Dixie’s 5 and spun to avoid the tackle.
“I felt him on my hip and on my shoulder a little bit,” Rodriguez said. “I think it was my left shoulder; I spun kind of clockwise and got in the end zone.”
CovCath coach Eddie Eviston wasn’t comfortable trying what would have been a 38-yard field goal.
“We had the ball, we knew the clock was running down … we had to make a play,” Eviston said. “Obviously, you’ve got two seniors, two guys that have been hooking up.”
Did Dixie coach Pat Burke expect Rodriguez to get Pitzer’s pass?
“Oh, absolutely, absolutely,” Burke said. “You’ve got one of the better players in the state of Kentucky … I thought we had good coverage, we had a good call, he made a great catch. That’s who he is, that’s what he does.”
Eviston called his pregame strategy simple and succinct.
“Our goal is to be balanced,” he said.
Eviston got his wish, especially from Pitzer and Braylon Miller. Pitzer threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 59, including a four-yard score to Rodriguez, while Miller ran three times for 51 yards and caught seven passes for another 82.
Dixie Heights (1-3), meanwhile was attempting to recover from last week’s 49-48 overtime loss to Beechwood. Burke said Friday’s loss continued his team’s learning curve.
“We’re close, we’re very close,” Burke said. “I really feel that our team can play with any team in the state of Kentucky.”
After Dixie kicker Andrew Kohls’ 22-yard field goal tied the score at 24-all with 2:32 to go, his ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving CovCath (4-0) the ball at its 35-yard line.
Miller’s 14-yard run around left end put the ball at the CovCath 49.
“Sometimes their D-end or outside (linebacker) would come in a little bit,” Pitzer said. “And we could get that edge and have a big play.”
Four plays later, Miller broke a tackle and went for another 13.
Dixie Heights gained 282 yards altogether. Junior quarterback Armani Gregg largely ran around and through CovCath – 22 carries for 126 yards and three touchdowns to go with 10-of-15 passing for another 118 yards.
CovCath (4-0) gained 358 total yards. The Colonels enter a showdown in Fort Mitchell next week with Beechwood, owners of the state’s longest winning streak at 14 games.
Dixie Heights gets a week off before they get into district play with Boone County.
COVCATH COLONELS 31, DIXIE HEIGHTS COLONELS 24
DIXIE HEIGHTS — 0-7–14–3 — 24
COV. CATHOLIC — 3–14–7–7 — 31
(CC) Andrew Weitzel 18-yard field goal, 2:00
(CC) Owen Leen 1 run (Weitzel kick), 8:14
(DH) Armani Gregg 1 run (Andrew Kohls kick), 6:02
(CC) Willie Rodriguez 10 pass from Evan Pitzer (Weitzel kick), 1:16
(DH) Gregg 2 run (Kohls kick), 7:43
(CC) Pitzer 4 run (Weitzel kick), 5:37
(DH) Gregg 7 run (Kohls kick), 1:43
(DH) Kohls 22 field goal, 2:32
(CC) Rodriguez 21 pass from Pitzer (Weitzel kick), 0:13
Passing Yards: Dixie Heights 118 (Gregg 10-15-118); CovCath 193 (Pitzer 15-19-193) .
Rushing Yards: Dixie Heights 164 (Anderson 13-38, Gregg 22-126, Rice 2-1); CovCath 164 (Leen 10-55, Pitzer 14-59, Bessler 1-(minus-1), Miller 3-51).
Receiving: Dixie Heights 118 (Goetz 1-17, Beach 1-3, Mutongwiza 1-21, Mwamba 1-22, Linville 1-7, Blank 1-14, Anderson 2-23, Rice 1-8); CovCath 193 (Rodriguez 3-46, Miller 7-82, Johnson 1-23, Link 4-42).
Turnovers: Dixie Heights 0, CovCath 0.
Penalties: Dixie Heights 5-51, CovCath 1-5.
Records: Dixie Heights 1-3, CovCath 4-0.