By Ken Lay
A bruised and battered Catholic High School football team overcame injuries and turnovers to nab a 35-2 District 4-AA victory against Scott Friday night before a packed house at Blaine Stadium.
It took the Irish just three plays to score a touchdown and set the tone. Catholic (7-1 overall, 3-0 in the district) took the opening kickoff and marched 53 yards for the game’s first score. Senior running back Elijah Brown put the Irish on the board with an electrifying 26-yard touchdown scamper.
It was the first of three touchdown runs for Brown, the son of former Tennessee football player Terry Brown. The younger Brown finished with 164 yards on just 10 carries for the Irish, who scored the game’s first points just 56 seconds into the contest.
Brown had a pair of long runs in the second quarter to help Catholic bounce back from a recent 61-40 loss at Anderson County. His other touchdown runs covered 50 and 51 yards respectively.
Catholic’s defense scored its second touchdown as senior Harrison Huber intercepted Scott starting quarterback Jake Phillips and returned it 47 yards to the end zone. Wyatt Price’s extra point extended the Irish’s advantage to 14-0 with 5 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the opening stanza on Senior Night.
“The ball was tipped and one of our guys couldn’t get to it. But I made the catch and I got some good blocks,” Huber said. “We needed that one.”
Catholic’s defense held the Highlanders (6-3, 1-3) scoreless en route to a victory that helped the Irish culminate a perfect home regular season.
“It feels great to win all of our home games,” Huber said. “The Anderson County game [played in Clinton on Oct. 11] was just crazy.”
Scott scored its only points on a safety as time expired in the first quarter.
Although the Irish dominated the opening half, things were far from perfect. Catholic, which closes the 2013 season with tough road games at Webb and Alcoa (in a game that will determine the district champion), lost two fumbles and quarterback Zac Jancek threw an interception before taking a seat after halftime with the game in hand.
Jancek closed his night with a bang as he scored Catholic’s last touchdown on an 18-yard run to make the score 35-2 inside the final minute of the half.
Brown’s second TD dash came early in the second frame. He would add another score later in the stanza for the Irish, who will look to end a three-game losing streak to the Spartans.
Scott’s safety kept the mercy rule from being invoked but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for the injury-riddled Irish.
“We got a chance to get some seniors some playing time,” Irish coach Steve Matthews said. “We’re a banged up football team right now.”
“This was a special night for us,” he said. “Some guys got a chance to play and we got a chance to see what they could do.
“We may need those guys.”