Beechwood Wins 8th Straight, Dumps New Cath 30-13
Beechwood extended their winning streak to eight games after thumping Newport Central Catholic on the road, 30-13, Friday night.
The Tigers did allow some second-quarter big plays from New Cath, but otherwise physically handled a Thoroughbred team who had their own winning streak snapped at four.
It was a first half of weird plays that fit nicely on Halloween night. On their first possession, Beechwood was stopped on third down deep in their own territory, but when jack-of-all-trades Brett Slusher rolled out to punt, he saw an opening and ran it 38 yards and into the redzone. A few plays later, running back Ethan Stringer was running untouched outside for an easy touchdown, giving the Tigers an early 7-0 lead that they would not relinquish.
After a New Cath three-and-out and quick Beechwood drive, it was Stringer again, this time to the left side, taking the ball 34 yards for a score after the whole left side had been nicely sealed off from the defense. Beechwood head coach Noel Rash said earlier in week that the battle of the trenches would be important and his team responded well to that emphasis. He also needed to rely on Stringer more since starter Joe Studer has been out with a knee injury.
“We told Ethan that he was going to carry the mail tonight and he did a heck of a job doing it,” Coach Rash said.
On the NCC side, though, there is one interior player that stands out time and again. Junior defensive tackle Maleek Lawrence is hard to run against, as he was constantly pushing himself into the Beechwood backfield again on Friday night. The Tigers ended with solid rushing-yardage totals, but the majority of that came to the outside as ground was hard to gain against Lawrence.
Since the Tigers were having success to the outside,they perfectly set themselves up for the play-action that way, and quarterback Kyle Fieger found a wide open Jonathan Stokes on the crossing pattern on such a play. Stokes caught the ball, shook off a defender near the sidelines and took it all the way for 64 yards, putting Beechwood up 20-0.
Newport Central Catholic responded well enough to drive the ball into the redzone, but when running back Jacob Smith fumbled for the second time of the half, turning the ball back over to Beechwood, the Breds seemed to be circling the drain.
They were lifted dramatically, however, when New Cath defensive back Nate Enslen stepped in front of a Fiegler pass and returned it to the 19-yard line. A short time later Clint Bartles raced his defender to the pylon, scoring first Thoroughbred points and brightening the New Cath sideline.
On the ensuing Beechwood drive, they once again called the play-action roll out pass play to a crossing tight end, this time Bret Finck, who caught it, raced down the sideline for over 30 yards, but this time, New Cath safety Ben Barbara caught up with him and stripped the ball in perfect stride. The play not only reversed field position, it gave a discouraged team some hope.
“High school kids, God love them, they get up 20-0 and they just get lax,” said Rash. “I tried to explain to them that they can't do that, but they did.”
With that bonus possession, the Breds stuck gold on what looked to be an awkward screen pass that Jacob Smith made the most of as he made a nice cut and ran it in from 46-yards, making the score 20-13 late in the first half.
The second half was more of a slow burn for NCC as Beechwood put the clamps on defensively for good. Early in the third quarter, Pat Henschen was blindsided for a sack, making him lose the ball and turn it over to the Tigers.
On the following drive, Stokes scored once again on the very same play-action pass that had succeeded twice previously in the game, this time form 46 yards, extending the lead to 27-13. Stokes is a difficult player to match up with because he is not only big, but he is also fast enough to break away in the open field.
The Tigers were able to add a field goal later in the half to go up 20 points and seal the deal. Since both teams were their district champion, they will enjoy a top seed and a home playoff game next Friday night. Beechwood (8-2) hosts Bracken County, while Newport Central Catholic (4-5) hosts Trimble County.
Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor
OTHER SCORES via NKYsports.com
Campbell Co. 44, Holy Cross 7
Covington Catholic 28, Conner 7
Ludlow 26, Pendleton Co. 7
Dayton 30, Carroll Co. 22
Highlands 43, Warren Central 0
Lexington Catholic 28, Boone Co. 7
Walton-Verona 27, Lexington Christian 14