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Irish overwhelm Eagles; Central Catholic rolls in 2nd half


Central Catholic s Jake Henderson tackles Clay s Drew Kuns last night as the Irish s Zach Messner closes in.
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Clay s Eagles hung with the state s third-ranked Division II football team last night, but only for a half.

After halftime, Central Catholic used dominant play from both lines to pound out 28 points en route to a 42-7 City League victory at Clay Memorial Stadium.

Five different players scored touchdowns for the Fighting Irish (5-0, 2-0 CL), including junior Nate Hobbs, who scored on a 36-yard reception and a 12-yard run.

We came out slow and had to make some adjustments, said Hobbs, also a cornerback on defense. We needed to get our heads together and just play football. We made some adjustments on the line, and we got it together and got our running and passing game going.

Early on, Clay (3-2, 1-1) appeared ready to test the three-time defending CL champions. The Eagles took the game s first possession 72 yards on 10 plays for a 7-0 lead.

Quarterback Drew Kuns (12-of-16, 140 yards) completed all four of his passes for 42 yards on the march, and Mike

Toth (13 carries, 58 yards) bolted 18 yards for the touchdown 5:27 into the game.

But Central answered with a 14-play, 73-yard drive to knot things with 28.2 seconds left in the first quarter.

Up front, our size was a big difference, Central coach Greg Dempsey said. Our guys up there did a better job in the second half, both offensively and defensively.

We started getting a pass rush and making them throw a little sooner than they wanted. Kuns is a great quarterback, but we were able to get some heat on him. That split second makes a huge difference in the passing game.

After QB Dave Walender threw incomplete on Central s first offensive play, nine straight Brad Rogers runs covered 58 yards to the Clay 15. Mike Marrow scored on a three-yard TD run.

A gamble by Eagles coach Mike Donnelly led to Central scoring 3:53 before halftime. After Clay s Stefan Gaskins had punted from his 43, a running-into-the-kicker penalty on the Irish left the Eagles a yard short of a first down at their 48.

Donnelly lined up his offense, but had Kuns punt from the shotgun formation. Rogers blocked the kick, and Central got possession at Clay s 36.

On the next play, Walender hit Hobbs on a swing pass to the left. He raced down the left side for the go-ahead 36-yard TD, and the Irish had a 14-7 halftime lead.

Hobbs started the second-half scoring on his 12-yard run with 5:06 left in the third quarter. The Irish, who topped Clay 279-198 in total offense, added TD runs of one yard from Rogers, 12 yards from Zeke McIntosh, and five yards from Divelle Costen, all in the fourth quarter.

I think we kind of poked the bear, Donnelly said of his team s opening drive awakening the Central defense. We had a nice first drive and put a lot of things together and made a nice fourth-down conversion. That let our kids know that we could play with them.

I kind of killed our momentum when we had that fourth-and-1 on the running into the kicker [penalty]. I decided to quick-kick it because I didn t want to kick it to Hobbs. But it backfired. I really think that hurt us a lot, but give Central credit. They came out in that second half and just wore us down.

Rogers carried 13 times for 86 yards, and Marrow 15 times for 53 yards, and fullback Dave Pickerel, also a force at linebacker, had 22 yards on three totes.

We just had to see what they were doing and get used to it, Pickerel said of Clay s early passing success. We always seem to have trouble on the first drive. We have to get our feet wet.

Contact Steve Junga or 419-724-6461.

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