CovCath takes thriller over Beechwood

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With two teams coming in averaging a combined 85 points per game and each averaging over 400 yards per game, it had the feel of whoever had the ball last was going to be the victor.

So when Andrew Bessler put Covington Catholic up 35-31 with 1:57 to play on a one-yard run, the ball was in Beechwood’s court to engineer the game-winning drive in the battle of the unbeatens.

But it was a defensive play that effectively ended the game when Cash Harney made a hit on Beechwood’s Chase Flaherty, jarring the ball loose and an incompletion on fourth down, the Colonels prevailing with the four-point victory.

“Our kids had to dig a little bit deeper, fought and kept fighting and good things started to happen in the second half for us,” Colonels coach Eddie Eviston said.

The drive prior, Evan Pitzer hit Oliver Link for 13 yards on a 4th and 5 near midfield to keep the drive alive. Six plays later, it was Bessler’s one-yard run that was the game winner.

CovCath had to climb their way out a big hole to get there.

They quickly found themselves down 21-0 in the game’s first 8:34 of play, Xavier Campbell’s 28-yard interception return finishing off a Tiger flurry in which they picked off two Evan Pitzer passes and had the home crowd rocking.

“I’d like to thank my defense first for bailing me out of that hole I put them in,” Pitzer said. “We came out and got punched in the mouth by a great team and a great program and our defense came storming back and gave us the energy to win.”

Pitzer and the Colonels had to regroup and do so quickly.

“Credit to their defense and defensive coordinator. They had me rattled at first. Few stupid mistakes on my part, got out of here with a win somehow and we’ll take it,” Pitzer said.

They were able to stop the bleeding on their next drive, Pitzer hitting Tate Kruer for a 17-yard touchdown pass on a 4th and 9. It was the first of many third and fourth down conversions the Colonels had on the evening.

“Came down to the little things. We lost on those little things. Penalties hurt us pretty bad and they ended up making a play when they needed it,” Tigers coach Jay Volker said. “Just can’t quite do it on defense yet. I thought we played better defensively than we had the last two weeks, just can’t get off the field on third and fourth down.”

Owen Leen ran one in from six yards out to get the Colonels within a score before the half, Colson Lair’s 27-yard field goal as time expired giving Beechwood a 24-14 lead going into the break.

Time of possession played a big part in the second half. CovCath owned possession for 9:14 in the third, running 17 plays to Beechwood’s nine.

A 13-play, 88-yard drive that spanned 6:45 got the Colonels within three when Pitzer ran one in from seven yards out to make it 24-21.

“Honestly, I think we got tired. We looked at it heavily going into the week, we had played 220 total plays against Simon Kenton, 190 plays against Dixie Heights. And our guys are playing both ways. So there’s guys that are playing 160 plays the last two weeks,” Volker said. “CovCath’s last two games were 120 and 135 Total plays. We’ve played maybe a game and a half more than they have in the previous two weeks and it eventually caught up to us.”

After a three-and-out from the Tigers, CovCath took advantage of solid field possession, needing four plays to go 45 yards for a score and their first lead of the game when Pitzer hit Braylon Miller for a 28-yard touchdown pass. The Colonels would take a 28-24 lead into the fourth, long gone from their 21-0 hole.

Beechwood responded despite their gunslinger Clay Hayden off to the sidelines due to a big hit on the previous drive. The high-powered offense turned to the Wildcat, Luke Erdman and Tyler Fryman marching them down the field and eventually Fryman punching one in from 25 yards out to make it 31-28 Tigers with 9:28 to play.

Much like their opening drive of the second half, the Colonels turned to Pitzer and the run game again. A 12-play, 64-yard drive was finalized by Bessler’s run, taking 7:26 off the clock. The defining moment of the drive Pitzer’s 13-yard pass to Link on fourth down.

“It actually had a chance for a homerun which I think was wide open,” Eviston said. “But Evan did a nice job of reading it, Link did a nice route. Pass-catch.”

But there was still 1:57 remaining, an eternity for the Tigers prolific offense.

But two sacks on Hayden and Beechwood was quickly facing a 3rd and 26 from its own 10-yard line. Fryman was there again to make a big play, catching a screen and turning it upfield for 20 yards to make it fourth and manageable.

But Harney’s hit and incompletion ended it.

The Colonels have won 17 of the last 20 in the series, including eight of the last nine. The loss snapped Beechwood’s 14-game winning streak, the longest in the state.

Now the two get to focus on district play. CovCath opens with Holmes at home next week, Beechwood hosting Gallatin County.

Pitzer finished with 129 passing yards and a 103 rushing yards.

“It’s one of those things he can do a lot of things for us,” Eviston said. “Sometimes you don’t want to continue to have to rely on him to run, but when he’s successful and doing it like he was tonight, might as well use him.”

Leen added 88 yards rushing on 10 carries while Miller was the top receiver with four catches for 45 yards.

Hayden passed for 235 yards, his top target Fryman with five catches for 77 yards, also running for 63 yards.

“Impressive as a freshman,” Volker said.

Flaherty also caught five passes for 75 yards. CovCath had two turnovers to Beechwood’s none, the Colonels committing just one penalty for 15 yards while Beechwood had six for 46 yards.


COVINGTON CATHOLIC — 0-14-14-7 — 35

BEECHWOOD — 21-3-0-7 — 31

Scoring Plays

1st Quarter

(B) Hayden 19-yard pass to Cusick (7:55) Lair kick

(B) Fryman 12-yard run (4:26) Lair kick

(B) Campbell 28-yard interception return (3:26) Lair kick

2nd Quarter

(CC) Pitzer 17-yard pass to Kruer (8:50) Weitzel kick

(CC) Leen 6-yard run (2:03) Weitzel kick

(B) Lair 27-yard FG (:00)

3rd Quarter

(CC) Pitzer 7-yard run (3:37) Weitzel kick

(CC) Pitzer 28-yard pass to Miller (:11) Weitzel kick

4th Quarter

(B) Fryman 25-yard run (9:28) Lair kick

(C) Bessler 1-yard run (1:57) Weitzel kick

Game Stats

Passing Yards: Covington Catholic 129 (Pitzer 11/19), Beechwood 235 (Hayden 16/26)

Rushing Yards: Covington Catholic 199 (Pitzer 26-103, Leen 10-88, Miller 2-5, Bessler 2-3), Beechwood 72 (Fryman 4-63, Erdman 4-20, Flaherty 7-12, Hayden 3-(-)23)

Receiving: Covington Catholic (Miller 4-45, Link 3-33, Johnson 2-23, Kruer 1-17, Flood 1-11) Beechwood (Fryman 5-77, Flaherty 5-75, Cusick 3-43, Erdman 2-27, Linder 1-13)

Turnovers: Covington Catholic 2, Beechwood 0

Penalties: Covington Catholic 1-15, Beechwood 6-46

Records: Covington Catholic 5-0, Beechwood 4-1

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