Moeller Breezes Past Cov Cath, 39-0
Covington Catholic had been riding high on the wave of momentum after breezing past Boone County and Dixie Heights in consecutive wins, but that wave crashed hard upon the shores of reality as they were manhandled by a burlier Moeller team, 39-0, at Lockland Memorial Stadium in Cincinnati.
Moeller jumped out to a quick 15-0 first-quarter lead after turning two turnovers into touchdowns. The Colonels showed life in the second quarter when quarterback Adam Wagner hit Lee McClure streaking down the sidelines on a go route. McClure had a step on his man to the end zone, but fumbled the ball out of bounds near the 20-yard line. A few plays later, the Colonels turned the ball over on downs.
“There were a couple of plays that snowballed on us,” said Covington Catholic head coach, Dave Wirth. “We moved the ball well in the first half. We were down a guy or two in the second half and that certainly didn't help. We took a couple of calculated chances because we knew we had to create a possession or two during this game because of their size.”
The size difference on paper was noticeable, but was indeed stark in person. A few Moeller players have NFL frames already and finding running room inside the hashmarks proved impossible for the Colonels against such girth. They tried some designed runs for Wagner, but each time he was only able to gain minimal yards and took a licking from the savage Moeller tacklers. Cov Cath generated only 49 yards on 26 carries. By the end, Wagner looked spent.
As a result of the lack of quality running lanes, the Colonels tried throwing quick passes out to the flats in order to get the ball into the hands of their small but speedy receivers. Moeller rallied to the ball carrier well, however, and consistently limited this kind of play. That left the deep ball, which proved to be the most effective play of the day for Covington Catholic.
After McClure fumbled the sure touchdown, the Crusaders responded with an impressive 46-yard field goal by kicker Matt Coghlin and then again with a 35-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chase Panky. That put Moeller up 25-0 at halftime and the hope had all been dashed for the Colonels.
What little optimism was left, however, quickly grew as it appeared the Cov Cath had scored a touchdown on a wild play. Wide out, Jake Erpenbeck caught another deep ball by Wagner, hitting him in stride the same way he had with McClure. And just like McClure, Erpenbeck also fumbled, but it was scooped up by Mitchell Rensing and ruled a touchdown. Finally the Colonels faithful could cheer, but then they noticed a flag had been thrown on the play, and that the score would not count.
“We got to capitalize on those opportunities,” Wirth said. “We get a ball over the top and we can't fumble the ball going into the end zone. We can't have a reverse wide open and decide to throw it deep when we have a 20-yard run in front of us. We got to avoid the turnover in the end zone to start the game. There's really just 10 to 12 plays in this game that ultimately determined this outcome.”
A short while later, Wagner was sacked on a scramble, causing him to fumble which was picked up by defensive lineman, Jack Meyer, who rumbled to the house and made the score 32-0. Moeller would add another meaningless touchdown in the fourth with an 86-yard touchdown catch by Hunter Hughes.
Despite the score, though, Wirth felt okay about his defense's effort.
“Defensively we actually hung in there physically a whole lot better than I think a lot of people anticipated, and did some really good things,” he said.
When asked if the Moeller size advantage made the difference, Wirth had to agree.
“I think as the game wore on it did. If you look at them, their defense was actually dying in the first half. We had a lot of plays, but we have to be able to get the ball into the end zone versus a good team, it's as simple as that.”
Covington Catholic (2-1) next hosts Henderson County on Saturday, September 13.
Other NKY River City High School scores:
Lloyd 42, Holmes 18
Campbell Co. 30, New Cath 17
Bellevue 48, Gallatin Co. 21
Paris 20, Ludlow 7
Pendleton Co. 39, Dayton 18
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor
Photos by Matt Stutler