Covington Catholic closed the door on Madison Southern’s unprecedented postseason run, handing the Eagles a 49-13 loss in the Class 5A Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl championship Saturday night at Kroger Field.
CovCath finished its season undefeated for the first time in program history. It won its seventh championship in as many finals appearances and its first since 2006. The Colonels did it in front of 10,646 fans, a Class 5A record which topped the previous mark of 9,104 set when Bowling Green defeated Cooper at Western Kentucky University’s Houchens/L.T. Smith Stadium in 2012.
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It was the Covington Catholic’s first title under head coach Eddie Eviston, who led Newport Central Catholic to Class 2A championships in 2010 and 2012 before taking the CovCath job in 2015. Eviston ended his career at Georgetown College in 2001 as the program’s all-time passing leader, a record that stood for 13 years.
CovCath finished 5-8 in Eviston’s first season and fell in the region finals each of the last two years.
“We put a lot of work into this stuff and I’m just proud of these kids,” said Eviston. “ ... Central Kentucky’s a little second home so it’s always good to come down here to Lexington. It was great to come here with this group of guys.”
The Colonels (15-0) put a running clock into effect on a 60-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Mayer to Casey McGinnins with 48 seconds left in the third quarter. They put running clocks — which start once an opponent has a lead of 36 points or more — on all 12 in-state opponents they played this year.
Madison Southern stayed in it early, though. The Eagles twice pulled to within one possession in the first half, their first score coming on a 14-play, 80-yard drive after CovCath built a 13-0 lead. The Colonels responded with a quick scoring drive before the Eagles answered again, cutting it to 20-13 with 6:40 to play.
Southern had a hard time stunting CovCath’s offense and eventually couldn’t keep up.
“They got a lot of guys they can rotate and we got a lot of guys that play both ways,” said Madison Southern Coach Jon Clark. “We just ran out of gas. ... They have a ton of team speed. Our speed was good until it got tired.”
Southern was coming off its fifth straight losing season when Clark took over the program in 2011. This was the school’s first appearance in the state finals of any team sport.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys and I couldn’t be more proud of our fans, the way they showed up,” Clark said. “This team is special, and we never came into this game thinking we didn’t have a chance.”
Mayer, a CovCath senior who’s committed to Miami (Ohio), finished 11 of 15 for 337 yards and three TDs. He also rushed nine times for 77 yards and three TDs, easily netting him MVP honors for the game.
Landen Stacy led Madison Southern with 131 yards on 24 carries. Trey Livingood, an offensive lineman who’s committed to Marshall, scored both of the Eagles’ TDs.