KNOXVILLE --- When Jake Mahoney scored a second-quarter touchdown for Knoxville Catholic High School Friday night, things were looking good for the Irish in their home opener.
But after Mahoney’s 3-yard touchdown plunge, which gave Catholic a 10-7 lead against Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, Georgia, things went south for the home team Sept. 1.
The Chargers, the two-time defending Georgia Class A state champions, scored 48 unanswered points to claim a 55-10 victory over the Irish on a cool night at KCHS’s Blaine Stadium.
Irish head coach Steve Matthews said his team got a wake-up call after it was dominated by Eagle’s Landing (3-0), which went undefeated in 2016.
“There’s really not much to say,” Matthews said. “We just have to forget about this and come back and get back to work.
“We just have to keep getting better each day.”
Catholic (1-2) scored first when Paxton Robertson kicked a 33-yard field goal with 6 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Irish were proficient on offense early. Robertson’s field goal culminated a 15-play drive eating up more than five minutes.
KCHS quarterback Jack Sompayrac had three completions on his team’s opening drive and the Irish drove to the Chargers’ 16-yard line before taking the lead.
“We moved the ball and we did some good things early,” Matthews said. “But we just made too many mistakes. If you make those kinds of mistakes against a good football team like that, this is what happens. ... You’re going to get your brains beat in.'
Eagle’s Landing, which was forced to punt on its first possession, would eventually answer.
The Chargers took advantage of some good position after a short Catholic punt gave them the ball on the KCHS 48-yard line. ELCA would score two plays later when quarterback Brayden Rush connected with Sean Queen on a 44-yard touchdown strike.
Mahoney’s touchdown seemed to awaken the Chargers, who scored when Kaleb Hood returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards.
Josh Mays and Nate McCollum would add rushing touchdowns in the second frame. Jelan Pearson also caught a touchdown pass from Rush, who completed just two passes [both for touchdowns].
Catholic did have 12 first downs before halftime and held a decisive advantage in time of possession. But an interception and a fumbled kickoff return on special teams also were factors in the Irish’s demise.
Catholic’s Dashon Bussell said the Irish must quickly put this game in the rearview mirror.
“We just have to take this one on the chin,” he said. “We just have to come back in and work harder.
“We have to work hard on all aspects of the game.”