BOWLING GREEN — Newport Central Catholic senior quarterback Josh Cain kept up a family tradition in thrilling style in the Russell Athletic Class 2A championship game on Saturday afternoon.
Cain's father, Jim, was part of NewCath's 1984 state title team, and brother Jake was part of the Thoroughbreds' 2010 championship.
Josh got himself a ring by throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lyon with 26 seconds left, lifting NewCath to a 30-26 victory at Western Kentucky University's L.T. Smith Stadium.
"My brother and dad won state in their senior years, so it's nice to keep that family legacy going," Cain said.
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Caldwell County edged ahead 26-24 on Brett Seymore's 19-yard field goal with 2:30 left, but NewCath didn't flinch.
"We knew we could pass on them because we'd been doing it all day," said Cain, who led the 'Breds on their 60-yard winning drive.
The big gainer was a 39-yard pass from Cain to Mac Franzen. Two plays later, Cain lofted the TD to Lyon.
"It was right timing," Lyon said. "They were watching for the run, and we just hit them over the top."
NewCath Coach Eddie Eviston figured Caldwell County might be expecting a run to set up a field goal.
"They were stacking the box, so we thought we'd have a shot at (the pass to Lyon)," he said.
NewCath got its second title in three years under Eviston, and fifth overall. The previous three championships came under Bob Schneider, now an assistant coach.
Cain passed for 243 yards and two TDs. Franzen had four catches for 81 yards and a score. Dylan Hayes led the NewCath ground attack as he bulled his way for 106 yards and two TDs.
Eviston said the 'Breds' come-from-behind victory was a fitting finish to the Thoroughbreds' season. They lost four of their first six games, but never gave up their goal of a championship.
"We hit some bumps in the road, but the kids fought through all that adversity to get here," Eviston said.
"This game sums up our season, from first quarter to the fourth, we never gave up and kept battling."
Caldwell County, led by Elijah Sindelar, gave the 'Breds all they could handle but came up short in their bid for a third state title.
Sindelar, a strong-armed 6-foot-4, 190-pound sophomore, completed 21 of 29 passes for 258 yards and two TDs.
Senior Martez Sivils had 10 catches for 123 yards and a TD. Sophomore Jaylen Boyd rushed for 92 yards for the Tigers, who twice had to settle for field goals when they drove inside the 10.
"That's how our defense played all year," Eviston said. "Caldwell County was slashing us pretty good, but we didn't break, and holding them to field goals turned out to be huge."
Franzen led the NewCath defense with 7.5 tackles. Elliott Rust had 6.5, including a pair of quarterback sacks.
"I couldn't ask any more of our kids," Coach David Barnes said. "We had a shot to win, and that's all you can ask. The kids played their hearts out.
"We've got some young sophomores and juniors, so this will be a learning experience for them and hopefully we'll get back here."