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Cov Cath Bounces Back With Big Win Over Henderson Co.

Some teams may wilt after being blown out a week before and finding themselves on the ropes at home, but Covington Catholic showed poise and composure as they overcame a gritty effort by visiting Henderson County, 49-28.

Things started out well for Cov Cath as Adam Wagner completed his first of four touchdown passes on the afternoon on a screen pass to tailback Ben Darlington who took it to the house, giving the Colonels a 7-0 lead.

The pendulum quickly swung the other way though, when wide receiver Logan McDowell fumbled on a punt return, giving Henderson County the ball inside the 25-yard line. Henderson County capitalized on the turnover with a fade-route pass to Kobe Carter who was able to leap over his man and pull in the touchdown with one hand in the corner of the end zone, tying the game at 7.

Carter was not done impacting the game, because soon after his first, he scored another touchdown, this time by returning an interception for the score. Adam Wagner's throw on the play appeared to go right to Carter, but Wagner's coach was pleased with the way he bounced back.

“Move on to the next play. It's real simple,” said Colonel head coach Dave Wirth when asked what he told his quarterback after the turnover. “He's a senior now, and his ability to do that is better than it used to be. You want your quarterbacks to be able to rebound. Obviously when we're on offense, we take some calculated risks. (Kobe Carter) is a great player. He jumped it and made a great play on it but we were able to come back from there and do a bunch of things. I was really glad to see Adam come back from that, because it didn't let him sink, he didn't sulk or get too whiny over it, just came back and started playing.”

Wagner's mental toughness was put even more to the test on the ensuing drive. The Colonels found themselves in the red zone, but on fourth down with eight yards to go. They ran a reverse to McDowell, who at the very last second, lobbed the ball back to Wagner who broke a tackle and ran it in for a touchdown. The problem was that an illegal-man-downfield penalty was called, erasing the score. The next play, however, on fourth-and-longer, Wagner hit Mitchel Rensing in the end zone on a go route, tying the game at 14-14.

Henderson County, though, squeezed one more touchdown before halftime on another fade route, this time to Eric Adkins. Coach Wirth was not pleased with his team being down going into the locker room.

“We anticipated having a battle. At the end of the day it kind of went according to plan but you certainly don't want to go in down at halftime to a really good team like them,” he said.

The second half, was a different story altogether. Whatever was said in the Colonel locker room worked like a charm.

The offense came out on fire, scorching Henderson County for four straight touchdowns on consecutive possessions. They found huge running lanes straight up the gut and pounded Henderson County into submission with runs from the shotgun formation.

“They are big and physical so we took advantage of probably them getting up the field a little bit and were able to do some misdirection and also worked our jet game with the quarterback snap off of it. So I think that kind of kept them off balance and they didn't have a real good opportunity to get settled in,” said Coach Wirth.

There were two back-breaking mistakes for Henderson County as they struggled to keep up with the Colonel ground assault of the second half. The first was when quarterback Richard Carter threw a deflected interception to Alex Wagner, who broke tackles and finished the play with an excellent return.

“I think that was really the nail in the coffin. Not only the interception itself but the ability to keep that play alive and get the ball further down the field. Because if we have that ball all the way down there on the 30 or 25 or whatever it was, then it could be a whole different thing,” Wirth said.

The other was when Henderson County was down 35-21 and had the ball on the one-yard line on third down. The shotgun snap was high for Carter who fumbled but recovered the ball. The mistake cost Henderson County four yards and a down, and they would not score on the ensuing keeper. Another touchdown strike from Wagner to McDowell and the game was all but over midway through the fourth quarter.

By the end, Covington Catholic simply had more in the tank than did Henderson County. You could see as the touchdowns mounted in the Colonels favor, the shoulders droop and the fatigue set in along the Henderson County sideline.

“They were really worn out in the second half and we just kept taking it to them,” said Colonels quarterback Adam Wagner.

“They play more guys both ways than we do, so that certainly helps out a little bit,” agreed Coach Wirth. “I think our ability to run the ball, especially in the second half  wore them down."

The Colonels (3-1) have a week off before another stiff test when they travel to play Highlands on September 26.

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Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor