October 7th, 2017

Cougars rally, but fall to KCD

Block_0 conor revell

Conor Revell

Staff Writer


Cougars rally, but fall to KCD
The Cougars Mario Convenuto looks for running room / photo by Conor Revell

The Holy Cross football team looked desperate and was spiraling towards a blowout loss against visiting fourth-ranked Kentucky Country Day.

However, something clicked, the ninth-ranked Cougars rallied, but it wasn’t enough, falling to KCD 42-37 in a Class A, District Three game Friday night.

“I think the kids settled down and as KCD fatigued, we felt like our kids realized that we’re just as good as them and that we can play with these guys and force a comeback,” Holy Cross head coach Bob Bronger said. “The onside kick, the long passes, and the bad snap. Those plays ignite you. Then their guys got 15-yard penalties, one after another, unsportsmanlike conduct type penalties, and that really helped us.”

It was the Bearcats (6-1) second consecutive win in the series and improves their all-time record to 3-12 against Holy Cross.

For a while, KCD looked like it was going sprint away with an easy victory.

Running back Gianni Minor sprinted 36 yards for a touchdown to put the Bearcats up 42-19 with 10:28 to play.

“We never gave up,” Cougar quarterback Jaren McDonald said. “We knew we could win. We trusted our offense and we trusted the defense to get stops. That was it.”

And then Holy Cross (3-4) made KCD sweat and had a chance to win the game.

“This week in practice we had some team issues,” Holy Cross running back Mario Convenuto said. “The second half really brought us together. We don’t want our season to be like this. We want the season to end on a good note so we wanted to fix the little things.”

It all started when a high snap went over KCD quarterback Jackson Diaz head and it was recovered by the Cougars Andrew Brown in the end zone cutting the deficit to 42-25 with 6:09 remaining.

“For one thing, we out-conditioned them,” Bronger said. “They really fatigued at the end and we were still going hard. Our kids made some really big plays. The bad snap helped ignite excitement. It gave us a shot and all of a sudden we were back in the game.”

Zach Meiman then attempted an onside kick and Holy Cross recovered.

“It was a pretty cool experience,” Meiman said. “Coach Lad (Dillard) told me what was going on and that somebody was going to be there. I just did the best I could. My teammates got down there and recovered the ball.”

It was their second successful onside of the game.

Two plays later Cougar quarterback Jarren McDonald threw a 45-yard bomb to Lex Thomas for a touchdown slicing the Bearcats lead to 42-31 with 5:49 remaining.

“They threw a little bit of everything at us defensively,” Bronger said. “Our guys weren’t necessarily wide open; they went up there and took it. They wanted it more. Jaren did a good job of scrambling and found people open. The guys were doing what our coaches taught them to do. It worked out for us.”

Meiman was unable to get another onside but the Holy Cross defense forced a three and out.

Gavin Foushee then made a critical play on third down when he hauled in a 27-yard pass from McDonald despite being well covered giving the Cougars a 1st-and-goal at the KCD 9-yard line.

“They were playing man, they were playing zone, they were playing everything they could think of,” Foushee said. “I just did what I had to do to get the ball. Jaren did what he had to do to get me the ball and I had to catch it.”

Convenuto powered his way into the end zone from 1-yard out on third down and Holy Cross was within 42-37 with 1:26 left.

KCD recovered Meiman’s onside attempt and was able to run out the clock securing the victory.

“We practice onside kicks every Thursday,” Bronger said with a laugh. “We also practice them sometimes on Monday. We try to do it at some point during the week or during pregame.”

For the first three quarters, the Bearcats offense dominated and had nine plays that went for 10 yards or more, four that went for 30 yards or better. Other than Minor’s 36-yard TD run, their longest play in the fourth quarter only went for eight yards.

Holy Cross had its fair share of big plays too with nine plays that went over 10 yards, five that went for over 30 yards.

The two offenses combined for 603 yards of total offense.

KCD had 342 yards of total offense, gaining 298 of those yards on the ground.

Running back Ashton Robinson led the way rushing for 152 yards on only 11 carries and three touchdowns.

Minor added another 152 yards on the ground and two scores and caught two passes for 44 yards including an 11-yard touchdown catch.

Diaz completed 4 of 12 passes for 46 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

The Cougars got most of their offense through the air. McDonald completed 19 of 32 passes for 283 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.

“I had a lot more confidence in the second half,” McDonald said. “Coach Bronger pulled me aside and told me that I would be okay. He told me to keep throwing the ball so that’s what I did.”

Holy Cross also benefitted from the Bearcats getting flagged 16 times for 131 yards.

While Convenuto is a running back, the senior caught nine passes for 115 yards to make up for his 12 yards rushing on 11 carries. He also threw a 4-yard touchdown pass.

“They were trying to match me up with a linebacker and to me and my teammates it was a sign of disrespect,” Convenuto said. “Whenever they tried to defend with me a linebacker, I made it a goal to blow past them every time.”

Foushee had himself a night catching six passes for 76 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas had two receptions for 46 yards and a score.

“This week we had a lot of stuff going on,” Foushee said. “We knew this game would either separate us or bring us closer together. We came together and that’s all that matters.”

The Cougars struggled to run the ball only picking up 18 yards.

Despite losing, Holy Cross didn’t appear down after the game, and is ready for their final district game of the season at Frankfort next Friday with the No. 2-seed on the line and a chance to host a playoff game.

“The kids are already positive and ready to come back and practice,” Bronger said. “They are excited and feel good about themselves. We lost to a great football team tonight that is ranked in the top five. KCD is loaded and talented and was picked with Beechwood to win it all. It’s something that we can build on. We will watch film on Frankfort this upcoming week, they’re very athletic, but we will be ready to battle.” 

 

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