By Dave Malaska
CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. – For one play, it appeared Dixie Heights was primed to exorcise the demons of last season's 3-8 disappointment.
Taking his first snap as the Colonels' starting quarterback, sophomore Drew Moore barreled 79 yards on a draw play to give Dixie an early 7-0 lead, but their demons caught up to them again as NewCath rallied for the 37-22 win in Friday night's Crosstown Showdown action.
The Thoroughbreds, behind a four-touchdown performance from senior running back Dylan Hayes, took advantage of Dixie miscues en route to the nightcap win.
NewCath cut into the lead early in the second quarter when a faulty Dixie Heights snap on a punt attempt deep in its own territory sailed through the back of the end zone. Hayes returned the ensuing free kick 56 yards to put the Breds ahead for good, 10-7.
After Hayes capped a late second quarter run with a nine-yard touchdown rush, Mac Franzen intercepted Moore on his first pass attempt of the second half to set up Hayes' third touchdown of the game from two yards out to give the Thoroughbreds a 23-7 lead.
"Sometimes, a big play like (Moore's run) can work against you," said Dixie Heights coach Dave Brossart, taking the loss in his Colonels debut. "We built some momentum and played a good first quarter, but the mental errors just got to us in the second quarter. Good teams take advantage of mistakes, and they did."
Breds coach Eddie Eviston said NewCath had prepared for the play that Moore broke for the early score, seeing Dixie Heights have success with it in scrimmages. It was a mental breakdown, but one soon forgotten.
"You have to have a short memory," Eviston said. We coach that, try to teach it. We knew Dixie has big-play potential, but we just had to forget it and move on to the next play, which we did.
It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Colonels recovered from their mistakes, cutting into NewCath's lead on a one-yard scoring dive by Darion Washington.
But the Thoroughbreds responded in kind on their next possession, as Hayes scored from 13 yards out on a draw, then thwarted another Dixie drive by intercepting a Moore offering after the Colonels had driven to the Newport 24 yard line.
A late Moore strike to Casey Cox, a 19-yard pass in the front of the end zone, brought Dixie Heights back to within striking distance, but Pete Collopy sealed the Colonels' fate, breaking through the line and out-racing Dixie Heights defenders to the goal line for a 45-yard score with 1:04 remaining in the game.
Hayes finished with 128 yards on 21 carries to lead the Thoroughbreds, and senior quarterback Josh Cain completed 16 of 23 passes for 121 yards in the win. Franzen, one of several NewCath two-way players, led the receiving corps with seven catches.
Cain, stepping in to fill the considerable shoes of Brady Hightchew, acquitted himself well in the role after some early nerves, keeping the offense rolling, including a late 28-yard run on a third-and-26 play to take the air out of the Colonels' rally hopes.
"I was a little nervous, a little excited," he said. "I just had to calm down. Our line came to work today, is all I can say. I had time in the pocket, and we pounded the ball up the middle all night."
Meanwhile, it was Hayes earning a lion's share of the praise from his coach.
"Dylan's a big strong kid with big-play potential. He's solid, which is what we need from him," said Eviston. "He showed tonight what he can do."
Moore threw for 163 yards on 15-of-22 passing and a touchdown while rushing for 114 yards and another score for the Colonels in his debut.
Evan Hicks caught four passes for 45 yards to lead Dixie Heights in receiving, while Mac Franzen led NewCath with seven catches for 57 yards.
DIXIE HTS 7-0-0-15—22
DH-Moore 79 run (Lopez kick)
NCC-Safety: Punt snapped out of end zone
NCC-Hayes 56 return (Hayes run)
NCC-Hayes 9 run (kick blocked)
NCC-Hayes 2 run (Caudill kick)
DH-Washington 1 run (Caple pass from Moore)
NCC-Hayes 13 run (Caudill kick)
DH-Moore 19 pass to Cox (Lopez kick)
NCC-Collopy 45 run (Caudill kick)
RECORDS: Newport Catholic 1-0, Dixie Heights 0-1.
Top Sports Headlines
Senior right-hander Erica Lang matched a career high with 14 strikeouts as Simon Kenton edged Walton-Verona.