The Streak Lives: Highlands Downs Covington Catholic, 42-7
It seemed like the Colonels faced two opponents on Friday night: the undefeated Highlands Bluebirds and themselves. Covington Catholic kept getting in their own way as they were routed by Highlands, 42-7, their 12th loss in a row in the rivalry.
“We were our own worst enemy tonight. We would make a big play and then shoot ourselves in the foot and you just can't make that many mistakes against a good team,” said Cov Cath head coach Dave Wirth.
Unlike the game against Moeller, the Colonels were not overpowered by sheer size and strength, but simply could not limit their offensive mistakes. On their first drive, quarterback Adam Wagner threw an interception right off the bat. Highlands followed suit when their quarterback Beau Hope threw a pick down the sideline, but Cov Cath wideout Lee McClure was unable to corral a pass in the corner of the endzone on fourth down on the ensuing possession and the scoring opportunity slipped away.
The Colonel defense gave a gritty effort in the first half, particularly near the goal line as they held Highlands three times inside the five-yard line without scoring. The first time came from a nice tackle by Cameron Pitzer on the two yard line who stuck the ball carrier with an excellent form tackle and pushed him backward for no gain. The play resulted in a failed fourth-down conversion and gave the ball back to the Colonels with no score in the first quarter.
The next play was the best Covington Catholic would have all night as Wagner broke loose down the sideline on a quarterback-keeper run that proved good for 62 yards. It would be the lone explosive play of the game for the Colonels. A few plays later, a delay-of-game penalty made a fourth-and-one opportunity into a fourth-and-six which was not converted. Cov Cath would not sniff the endzone again until late in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of hand.
The Colonel defense continued to be tough inside the redzone as it stopped Highlands on a fake field-goal and shortly thereafter benefited from a missed field-goal, but their defensive success would prove to be short lived.
The Bluebirds pushed the pace from the get-go with an exceptionally quick hurry-up offense. This attack, combined with Cov Cath's multiple turnovers and failed fourth-down conversions, made the defense wear down over the course of the half and they looked gassed coming out of halftime.
“We just can't play that many snaps. They have a good offense and we got a good defense, but when you're on the field that long, the game is going to break at some point,” Coach Wirth said.
Highlands receiver Alex Veneman caught a touchdown pass in the endzone just before halftime on what appeared to be a blown coverage from the Colonel secondary. Wirth talked earlier in the week about the importance of keeping an eye on the talented Veneman, but one lapse of focus translated into seven points and really proved to be the beginning of what would quickly become a blowout thereafter.
Highlands went into the locker room up 14-0 at Halftime.
When the action resumed, the Bluebirds went after a tiring Colonel defense by running it right at them. On their second possession of the half, Highlands had four straight first-down runs and topped it off with a keeper by Hope, good for a 20-yard touchdown run.
With Cov Cath down 21-0 and on their last leg early in the third quarter, Adam Wagner scrambled around the backfield and found McClure racing deep across the middle of the field and hit him with a nice pass on the run, moving the ball into Highlands territory and giving the Colonels some life. On the very next play, a bad snap over the head of Wagner resulted in a 16-yard loss and killed the ripple of momentum Covington Catholic had created for itself.
After that, Highlands just handed the ball off and watched their linemen push the pile for long, sustained drives of many plays, mostly runs up the gut. The Bluebirds scored touchdowns on four straight possessions and put the game easily out of reach at 42-0 in the fourth quarter.
The Colonels were able to get on the scoreboard late in the game when Jake Erpenbeck caught a nicely set up screen pass and took it for more than 50 yards down the sideline for the score, but outside of that, there was not much to cheer about for the Colonel Crazies that made the trip to Fort Thomas.
Covington Catholic goes to 4-2 on the season, while Highlands remains perfect at 5-0. The Colonels host nearby Beechwood next week, and Highlands travels to play Harrison County.
Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor
In other NKY high school action:
Newport (2-3) rolled on Homecoming night, beating Pendleton Co. (2-4), 62-13
Scott (4-1) suffered its first loss of the season, being routed at Cooper (4-2), 42-7
Holy Cross (1-4) picked up its first win of the season, a big 48-19 rout of Bishop Brossart (1-3)
Newport Central Catholic (1-4) also bagged its first victory of the year, shutting out Lloyd (4-1) 28-0
Dayton (2-3) rolled over Bracked Co., 39-20
Bellevue (3-3) was a big winner over Owen Co. (0-6), 52-0
Ludlow (4-2) held off Berea, 42-14
Beechwood (3-2) roughed up the Holmes Bulldogs (1-4), 49-7
Conner (1-4) picked up its first win, beating South Oldham, 27-21
Dixie Heights (4-1) put away Boone Co. (1-5), 38-7
Simon Kenton (6-0) got by Ryle (1-5), 24-17
Walton-Verona (5-1) annihilated Carroll Co. (1-5), 57-13