By John Lachmann
PARK HILLS, Ky. – After finishing the regular season with a 13-12 loss to Conner last week, Covington Catholic could not wait to get back on the field.
And the Colonels took their frustrations out on Rowan County in a 67-3 win in a first-round playoff game at Wooten Field on Saturday.
“(This week) was very long and we were very eager,” CovCath coach David Wirth said. “Obviously the events from last week were very frustrating to say the least…but we were happy to get back on our home field and play a team from another district, play a non-Northern Kentucky team and have the opportunity to perform a little bit better and feel better.”
In addition to falling last week after being unable to convert a decisive late two-point conversion, CovCath lost three players to two-game suspensions for their roles in a skirmish at the end of the second quarter.
One suspension was overturned but the other two will be upheld since there was no video evidence.
“We weren’t happy at all, obviously, but this was probably the longest week of my life,” Colonels senior quarterback Blake Bir said. “After everything that happened last Friday night, I’m probably still a little angry about it.”
CovCath rolled up 344 yards of offense in the first half and 463 for the game. Bir finished 12-for-20 passing for 261 yards and three touchdowns before being lifted midway through the third quarter.
Senior wide receiver Ethan Egbers caught eight passes for 144 yards and all three Bir passing TDs, giving Egbers the all-time single-season touchdown receptions record with 12.
Bir has already shattered CovCath’s season passing TD record of 28. He has now thrown for 35 scores in 2012.
Rowan County went three-and-and on its first possession, aided by a sack by Colonels senior defensive lineman Sam Williamson.
After a strong punt return, Egbers’ 28-yard run took the ball down to the Rowan County three and senior Bobby Beatrice punched it in on the next play just 1:31 into the game.
Junior Luke Bir ran in a 31-yard TD on the Colonels’ first play of their third possession and Egbers tacked on the conversion off a botched snap to make it 15-0.
CovCath again took over in Vikings territory on its next drive, this time at the 25, and Bir hit Egbers on the first play to extend the lead to 22.
It took the Colonels four plays to find the end zone on their next possession, with Beatrice sprinting 31 yards and sophomore Adam Wagner adding a conversion run to push the margin to 30 as time expired in the first quarter.
CovCath ran 11 plays on those five drives, with the Colonels’ average field position being the Rowan County 40.
An Egbers’ 35-yard touchdown reception from Bir with 6:37 remaining in the half made it 37-0, and the Vikings finally answered with a field goal to get them on the board.
But with 1:12 left, CovCath junior defensive back Matthew Way intercepted a pass and the Colonels took over at their own 20. Bir completed consecutive passes of 14, 18, 15 and 25 yards, and after a false start penalty, Bir ducked several would-be tackles and scrambled for a 14-yard touchdown that made it 45-3 at the half.
Egbers ran the opening kickoff in the second half back 81 yards to make it 52-3, inducing the running clock, and he caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Bir with five minutes left in the third quarter, ending the starters’ afternoon.
CovCath will travel to Johnson Central next Friday for its second-round playoff game. The Colonels have lost their last three games against the Golden Eagles, all played on the road.
CovCath’s last win over Johnson Central came on Nov. 24, 2006 in a state semifinal when the Colonels won their last state championship.
“You certainly don’t want to come out and struggle with your first-round opponent then have to go down and play someone like Johnson at Johnson, so we were pretty happy with the performance,” Wirth said.
ROWAN CO. 0-3-0-0—3
at COVCATH 30-15-14-8—67
CC-Beatrice 3 run (Goddard kick)
CC-L. Bir 31 run (Egbers run)
CC-Egbers 35 pass from B. Bir (Goddard kick)
CC-Beatrice 31 run (Wagner run)
CC-Egbers 35 pass from Bir (Goddard kick)
RC-Alderman FG 31
CC-B. Bir 13 run (Beatrice run)
CC-Egbers 81 kickoff return (Goddard kick)
CC-Egbers 17 pass from B. Bir (Goddard kick)
CC-Schmahl 12 pass from Wagner (VonLehman run)
RECORDS: CovCath 8-3, Rowan County 4-7.
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