Charlotte Catholic overcame its own mistakes and a game Charlotte Country Day defense Friday night, retaining the John Cook Cup with a 20-3 home victory.
The Cougars lost four fumbles, were whistled for 10 penalties and had two long runs called back because of infractions.
But their strong ground attack wore down the Buccaneers, and the No. 6-ranked Cougars broke the game open with a pair of long scoring passes in the fourth quarter.
Country Day, trying to snap a five-year losing streak in the Cook Cup game, took a 3-0 lead into the closing minutes of the third period.
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But Catholic finally overcame its mistakes long enough to take the lead on Paul Neel’s 20-yard run – two plays after partially blocking a Country Day punt.
The Cougars then put it away, scoring on passes of 59 and 32 yards from Chris Walton to Garrett McKernan. Meanwhile, Catholic’s defense limited the Buccaneers to 7 yards total offense in the second half.
“They outplayed us for three quarters, but I think they ran out of gas,” Catholic coach Mike Brodowicz said. “We won this game by attrition.”
The penalties and mistakes that dogged Catholic in its season-opening 6-0 loss two weeks ago at Charlotte Christian were there in the first half.
A shanked punt set up Catholic at the Country Day 30 a few minutes into the game, and the Cougars moved to the Buccaneers’ 4. But the Bucs fell on a botched Catholic handoff and ended the threat.
The Cougars drove to the Country Day 12 a few minutes later but missed a field goal. Catholic fumbled the ball away in Country Day territory early in the second quarter. But the Bucs weren’t immune from problems, as they lost a fumble after driving to the Catholic 13 late in the first quarter.
Country Day finally got on the board shortly before the half, moving from its 38 to the Cougar 14 – thanks in part to a pair of Catholic 15-yard penalties. Junior Edward Dellinger put the Bucs ahead with 6 seconds left in the half on a 31-yard field goal.
Records: Charlotte Country Day is 1-1; Charlotte Catholic is 1-1.
3 who mattered
Garrett McKernan, Catholic: McKernan caught touchdown passes of 59 and 33 yards in the fourth quarter, as the Cougars pulled away.
Nick King, Catholic: King, a senior linebacker, recovered a fumble and had three sacks.
Jack Stajos, Country Day: Stajos, a junior linemen, had a big role in Country Day taking a lead late into the third quarter. He had five tackles for loss and made several other big plays on defense.
- Friday night marked the 58th meeting between the two teams, and the 32nd straight year they’ve played for the John Cook Cup, named the legendary Country Day football coach. Going into Friday’s game, Charlotte Catholic had won five in a row and seven of the last eight. They’d outscored the Buccaneers 149-16 over the last four years.
- The heat and humidity took a toll on players, especially on Country Day, which had about 30 players in uniform. The game was stopped five times in the second half for Buccaneers players who suffered cramps. Two Country Day players cramped up on one play late in the third quarter.
- Country Day was playing for the first time without all-conference running back Tim Newman Jr., who transferred to Myers Park earlier in the week.
- Catholic’s defense limited Country Day to 7 yards total offense in the second half. The Cougars, meanwhile, piled up 288 yards after being held to 86 in the opening half.
They said it
”It’s the job of the coaching staff to help our kids hold on to the ball better and avoid the penalties. Our players are fully capable of overcoming that.” – Catholic coach Mike Brodowicz.
Charlotte Country Day travels next Friday to Wake Christian; Charlotte Catholic visits Ardrey Kell next Friday.