|G. Michael Graham Photo. Newport Central Catholic running back Jacob Smith looks for room in the recent game against Dixie Heights. Smith rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown in NewCath's 28-0 blanking of Lloyd Memorial on Saturday.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
When the dust settled, the team with more success recently left with the victory.
The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (1-4) recorded their first win of the season with a 28-0 blanking of the Lloyd Memorial Juggernauts (4-1) on Friday in Erlanger. Most importantly, NewCath started 1-0 in Class 2A, District 6 action. The Thoroughbreds improved to 25-0 in district regular season games since 2006.
“It was a great team win against a good Lloyd team,” said Josh Schneider, NewCath junior wingback/defensive back. “It was definitely a confidence-booster for us because we really needed a win after playing those first four teams. That’s always rough. We have to keep playing like we did (Friday).”
NewCath has not lost to Lloyd Memorial since 1991. The Thoroughbreds have won 17 straight in the series.
The strength of schedule helped NewCath in this game as expected. The Thoroughbreds lost to Class 6A, District 6 opponents Simon Kenton (6-0 record), Campbell County (4-1) and Dixie Heights (4-1) in addition to Cooper (4-2) of Class 5A, District 5. On the other side, Lloyd beat Dayton (2-3) of Class 1A, District 4, struggling District 7-4A Covington Holmes (1-4) in addition to Class 2A, District 5 opponents Owen County (0-6) and Gallatin County (3-3).
The Thoroughbreds came in allowing averages of 223 yards rushing and about 168 passing per game. But they held the explosive Juggernauts to 118 yards of total offense including just six yards on the ground on 27 carries.
NewCath held sophomore Justin Durham to 17 yards rushing on nine carries. He entered the game with 238 yards on 36 touches.
“I know this is kind of weird with us giving up the points we did early in the year against (the bigger schools), but we thought we could be a good defense,” said Dan Wagner, NewCath Defensive Coordinator. “If you look at the games we played, we were pretty tough – Simon Kenton not so much. We’d play, play, play then give up the big play. Our offense got better so we were on the field less. The kids did what we asked them to do.”
The Juggernauts came in averaging about 214 yards rushing and 139 passing. The Thoroughbreds put junior 6-foot-2-inch defensive back Erik Anderson on Lloyd junior 6-4 wide receiver Charles Gaines. Anderson held Gaines to one catch for 28 yards. Gaines had 18 catches for 244 yards and two touchdowns entering the game.
“We did a good job trying to take (Gaines) out of the game,” Wagner said. “They like the outs (routes) and they like him deep as he’s 6-4. Erik doesn’t have the weight that (Gaines) has. But we matched up well. We were able to get our safety over top. They kept trying to go to him and Erik ended up with two interceptions.”
The Thoroughbreds finished with four interceptions. Seniors Logan Neff and Brandon Gray had the other two.
Lloyd senior quarterback Hayden Molitor completed 11-of-16 passes for 118 yards. Sophomore Lashunn Townsend finished with seven catches for 39 yards and senior Zach Riddle had three for 47 yards.
Offensively, the Thoroughbreds gained 333 total yards. They had 42 rushes for 193 yards and completed 10-of-13 passes for 140 yards.
NewCath senior wide receiver Nate Enslen had a great all-around game. He had a three receptions for 50 yards, two carries for 29 yards and a 53-yard punt return for a touchdown.
NewCath junior running back Jacob Smith had 31 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown. Smith also completed a 52-yard halfback pass to Anderson.
NewCath sophomore quarterback Patrick Henschen completed 9-of-12 passes for 88 yards. Anderson hauled in two passes for 65 yards.
“We’re going in the right direction,” said Dave Schneider, NewCath Offensive Coordinator. “Obviously, we still have a lot of work to do. The kids are working their tails off. We’ll get there.”
The Thoroughbreds do need to clean up the turnovers. They lost three fumbles, but still ended up plus-two in that category because the Juggernauts also lost a fumble.
NewCath did struggle some against Lloyd’s 3-3-5 defense. The Juggernauts put Gaines in on defense and he made a lot of plays.
The Thoroughbreds led 7-0 with 6:06 left in the game when Smith scored on a 7-yard run and Anderson made the extra-point kick. John Harris then ran it in from a yard out with 1:41 left in the first half to put NewCath up 14-0 at halftime.
NewCath pulled away in the fourth quarter. With 3:56 left, Henschen found junior Griffin McHugh for a 10-yard touchdown.
Following an Anderson interception, the Thoroughbreds scored their final touchdown. Harris ran it in from a yard out. Harris finished with 16 yards on four carries.
NewCath has its bye week this week. The Thoroughbreds take on Newport on Oct 10. Game time is 7 p.m.