By John Lachmann
PARK HILLS, Ky. – In his first three seasons at Covington Catholic, coach Dave Wirth recorded a total of two shutouts.
Four games into 2012, the Colonels already have three, thanks to a 34-0 win over Boone County at Wooten Field on Saturday.
CovCath lost, 27-11 at Cincinnati La Salle last week, but vs. in-state opponents Campbell County, Dixie Heights and most recently the Rebels, the Colonels have not allowed a point.
“We gave up a few yards at the beginning – they came out and hit us hard – but we retaliated and that’s all that matters, we came back and we held the goose egg,” CovCath senior linebacker D.J. Powell said. “When you can hold a physical team like Boone County to a goose egg, it’s always a good day.”
Run-happy Boone County ran the ball 43 times and threw seven passes, finishing with just 177 yards of offense – 133 on the ground. The Rebels were 3-for-13 on third down, leading to eight punts.
“Anytime you play a Boone County football team, if you manage the run fairly well you should feel good about that,” Wirth said.
It appeared Boone County would snap the Colonels’ Kentucky-opponent shutout streak on its second possession.
After the teams traded punts, the Rebels drove to the CovCath 11 and faced third and 5. But a snap over senior quarterback Jesse Schulze’s head was booted back further by junior Casey Boston, who ultimately fell on the ball for a 23-yard loss.
“That’s a huge break,” Wirth said. “We’re about to break and they’re about to score there and we’re throwing everything and the kitchen sink at them and they’re still getting yardage. That was a huge break there, no doubt about it.”
In addition to the lost yards, Boone County also lost Boston indefinitely as he broke his ankle on the play.
A Rebels punt pinned CovCath at its own 14, but the momentum had clearly swung in the Colonels’ favor. They drove 86 yards in 3:59, capped off by a 35-yard touchdown pass from senior Blake Bir to junior Luke Bir.
“As a defense you can just feel the morale go up, and even in the stands – it really does help,” Powell said. “When you see a team go backwards, they start to quit and you can see the body language go down.”
Boone County did not pick up another first down until its final possession of the game, thanks largely to the adjustments CovCath made defensively against a Rebels offensive line that was concentrating on senior standout Spencer Hemmer.
“I was getting double-, triple-teamed, so it was really nice, the linebackers coming in,” Hemmer said. “I thought we played it really well.”
CovCath gains combining for over 100 yards were called back on consecutive penalties on the Colonels' next drive, and they were forced to punt. On their final possession of the first half, senior Bobby Beatrice broke off a 40-yard run, setting up a 13-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bir to senior Ethan Egbers.
Blake Bir connected with Egbers again on a 46-yard strike midway through the third quarter on the first play of a drive to make it 20-0.
The Colonels extended their lead to four touchdowns with 13 seconds left in that period when senior Matt Summe pulled down a 42-yard reception after juggling the ball around his defender on second and 31.
CovCath junior defensive back Adam Fischer intercepted a pass on the next play from scrimmage, and Blake Bir threw his fifth touchdown pass of the game, an 11-yard strike to Hemmer, who reported in at tight end.
Blake Bir finished 15 for 22 for 275 yards and five TDs. In four games this season, Bir has thrown for 1,123 yards and 14 scores.
Egbers was Blake Bir’s top target, catching five passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Beatrice led the team in rushing with nine carries for 94 yards.
Sophomore Jerry Marshall led Boone County in ground yards by coming off the bench with 13 carries for 57 yards. Schulze rushed 24 times for 40 yards, and he was 4 of 5 passing for 44 yards and one interception.
CovCath held the Rebels to an average of just 3.1 yards per carry.
“We brought more protection on the edge, they had a wing coming down to block, double teaming, we made some adjustments we had some extra guys coming on the edge,” Powell said. “I think we adjusted that really well and ended up suffocating them and they couldn’t run it any more.”
Boston’s injury is just the latest for the banged-up Rebels, who are 0-4 for the first time in coach Rick Thompson’s 14 seasons at the helm.
“I thought we played well – we competed for a while,” Thompson said. “We’re playing with four sophomores on defense, two sophomores and a freshman on offense. Not making excuses, but we’ve got to compete and grow.”
BOONE CO. 0-0-0-0—0
at COVCATH 0-13-14-7—34
CC-L. Bir 35 pass from B. Bir (Dressman kick)
CC-Egbers 15 pass from B. Bir (kick failed)
CC-Egbers 46 pass from B. Bir (Dressman kick)
CC-Summe 42 pass from B. Bir (Dressman kick)
CC-Hemmer 11 pass from B. Bir (Goddard kick)
RECORDS: CovCath 3-1, Boone County 0-4.
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