Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher
Photos by Sandie Free | CAScoreboard Photographer
CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE – And the beat goes on … Montgomery Academy became the latest victim in Catholic’s march to an end-of-season showdown with Andalusia. The Knights knocked off rival Eagles 72-15 highlighted by the play of quarterback Caleb McCreary.
“Caleb is a great guy and we are blessed to have him leading our offense,” said Kirk Johnson, coach of the Knights. “He continues to make plays in every phase.”
Friday night, it was McCreary’s running ability that propelled the Knights. The signal-caller called his own number 10 times and amassed 251 yards rushing. Catholic ran for 397 of their 528 total offensive yards.
Johnson: “The boys played really well. We knew that MA wasn’t going to show a lot of stuff so we wanted to take advantage. It feels good to have the city back.”
This was the first meeting since last year’s postseason upset by the Eagles. That team and the 2022 version are not in the same conversation though as they’ve been outscored 133-151 through six games. The loss to the Knights dropped them below .500 and further added to their offensive futility.
With that said … Montgomery Academy actually did do something teams haven’t done in several weeks, hold a lead over their rivals.
After a 34-yard E.J. Babies touchdown and subsequent successful point after by Callan Gadilhe, Montgomery Academy’s Jashawn Cooper broke free on a 4-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. He also converted the two-point play and put the home-standing Eagles up 8-7.
Hopefully, someone from MA took a picture of the scoreboard at that point. McCreary ran for two first-quarter touchdowns, scoring from 33 (with :55 left on the clock) and then from 63 (with :07 left in the period) to put the Knights up 21-8.
Luke Harkless (2 receptions for 59 yards) broke free on a 16-yard touchdown run, his only carry of the night. The lead expanded to 28-8.
Cooper, after a time-consuming drive, capped the Eagles’ drive with a 2-yard score. Carson Springer added the point after to make the mark a more palatable 28-15. But the momentum was short-lived as the Knights seized it back into their clutches courtesy of a 7-yard scoring run from E.J. Babies.
McCreary – who also threw for 131 on six completions – tossed scoring dimes to Harkless (from 35 yards out with 2:11 left in the half) and then to Josh Palmer (from 11 yards out with:31 ticks left before intermission) to send the teams into the half with a 49-15 score.
Things continued to devolve defensively for the Eagles in the second half. McCreary scored twice in the third (runs of 74 and 27) and once in the fourth (from 38 yards out) to march the Knights into a significant 70-15 lead.
Harrison Rogers capped the scoring for the Knights, forcing Montgomery Academy’s Elijah Jernigan to back peddle 14 yards into his end zone for the safety.
The stats are just as lopsided as the score. Catholic put up 528 yards of offense and – in a rarity – Jeremiah Cobb only carried the ball four times for 32 yards. McCreary and Babies (98 yards on nine carries) stepped up to give the future Tiger a break. Montgomery Academy amassed 206 yards on 42 plays, most of it coming through the air. Quarterbacks Carson Springer and Thomas Woodward were a combined 5-13-1 with Derrick Vinson II their favorite target. Vinson reeled in four catches for 97 yards. William Hardin caught one for 31.
On the other side of the field, Harkless and Palmer (59 yards and 56 yards respectively) combined for five of McCreary’s six completions.
Defensively, Keltric Washington (4.5), LJ Green and Jaden Jones combined for 12.5 tackles (10 of which were solos). Brennan Binns, Garrett Sanford, Cornelius Duke, Zach Underwood and Rickie Williams also finished the affair with multiple tackles.
With this win in the books, the Knights next will host Bullock County before ending the season with back-to-back road trips to Dale County (10/14) and Andalusia (10/21).
Montgomery Academy hosts BT Washington next for the final regular season home game of the season and then travels to Slocomb and Geneva.
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