The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (10-2) have played its district foe, the Holy Cross Indians (7-5), seven times in the last five seasons, including twice in the playoffs without suffering a loss. The Indians were hoping for the upset victory on a chilly Friday night at Newport Stadium with the region championship on the line.
Holy Cross, who is already in the process of its longest playoff run, struck first when Eric Walker returned the opening kickoff 95 yards to take a 7-0 lead.
New Cath regrouped quickly by taking its first possession eight plays down the field for a 71-yard scoring drive. Quarterback Brady Hightchew threw a 25-yard touchdown strike to Jake Cain to tie the score 7-7.
The Indians were not rattled as they scored to retake the lead the on ensuing drive. Quarterback Jerry Arlinghaus led a 10-play drive that culminated in a 15-yard pass play to Kyle Fuller. After Fuller kicked the extra point, Holy Cross had retaken the lead 14-7.
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The next Breds drive was a steady dose of Chris Kelly running plays. However, head coach Eddie Eviston called for a change of pace on the first play of the second quarter. Sophomore running back Dylan Hayes scored on a one-yard run to retie the score at 14.
That's when the New Cath defense stiffened and forced two three-and-out Holy Cross possessions. Sandwiched around those defensive stops, the offense took the lead 21-14 with a one-yard Kelly run. On three consecutive plays during the possession, the Breds ran for chucks of yardage that equaled 23, 13, and 15 yards.
Towards the end of the first half, Hightchew fumbled on fourth-and-goal at the Indians' one-yard line. This gave Holy Cross the ball with 2:26 remaining in the half with 99 yards of playing field in front of them. When Indians were forced to punt, disaster happened against Holy Cross in the way of a 9-yard punt.
New Cath only needed three plays to score again as Kelly found the end zone for the second time and the 'Breds suddenly had a 28-14 lead going into the locker room at halftime.
After Kelly scored his third touchdown to start the third quarter, Holy Cross running back Chad Fuller returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Breds 25-yard line. Four plays later, Arlinghaus threw a five-yard scoring pass to Josh Jasper to make the score 35-21.
That was the last sign of life from the Indians. New Cath scored three rushing touchdowns, one each by Hightchew, Kelly and Hayes to make the final score 56-21.
Kelly carried the ball 30 times for 183 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns.