Lexington Catholic knew before taking the field Saturday that it would be in for a long night in the 15th annual Republic Bank Bluegrass Bowl.
The opener, scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m., was delayed about 50 minutes because of a 107-degree on-field heat index when the teams were scheduled to begin warm-ups. The game also was delayed more than 15 minutes in the second quarter when North Hardin's Darren Woods suffered an apparent broken left leg.
After Collins held off North Hardin 49-42, Covington Catholic made the home team's night seem longer still, blasting the Knights 54-21. The game ended a few minutes before 1 a.m.
Lexington Catholic lost its bowl game for only the second time in 15 years.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Covington Catholic 54, Lexington Catholic 21: The Colonels outgained LexCath 579 yards to 382. Things might have been worse if not for 113 yards in penalties.
"We got our hind ends handed to us," Knights Coach Bill Letton said. "We're young in a lot of places. Our youth showed tonight. We make no excuses. They took it to us. They whipped us in just about every way imaginable.
"Our guys have got to decide what we're going to do about the problems that we've got."
CovCath quarterback Blake Bir completed 13 of 17 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns.
Alex Slabaugh, the Colonels' MVP of the game, caught five passes for 123 yards and also ran for 68 yards, including the game's first touchdown.
Alex Connelly caught four passes — three for touchdowns — and 113 yards.
This from a team that lost 61-7 a week earlier versus Ryle.
"We were a wounded bunch of dogs after last week," Coach Dave Wirth said. "We took a good whipping and there were a lot of things that were the cause of that. No. 1, we played a really good team last week, the same way we did this week. I think when you get a team that has a lot of tradition and a lot of pride and talent and something like that happens, you have one of two results. They either tank it or they come back with some serious fury."
But this much fury?
"I expected a lot of fury," Wirth said. "You could feel it building during the week."
Adam Wachs took MVP honors for LexCath, leading the Knights with 7.5 tackles. Quarterback Kyle Bolin completed 13 of 31 passes for 182 yards and a TD.
The Colonels (1-1) dominated in taking a 28-7 halftime lead.
Slabaugh started things with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Bir with 1:33 left in the first quarter. Earlier, the Colonels made it to the 3 before a high shotgun snap was recovered by Catholic's Anthony Kersey.
LexCath (1-1) had one answer in the half, soon after Slabaugh's score. Facing third-and-3 on their 23-yard line, the Knights called on Bolin for a pass over the middle to Adam Bush. Bush caught the ball in stride near his own 40 and outran everyone to the end zone for a 77-yard touchdown.
Slabaugh immediately put CovCath back in the red zone, though, taking a screen pass 86 yards to the Knights' 4. Brady Reese ran it in from there on the next play.
A LexCath three-and-out led to another Colonels score. Paul Ritter returned the punt 50 yards to the LexCath 8 and, once more, it took only one more play to score — a Bir pass to Alex Connelly. That made it 21-7 with just less than 11 minutes left in the half.
LexCath went three-and-out again. And CovCath scored again, via a 54-yard screen pass from Bir to Chris Schulte.
The Knights mustered their only sustained drive of the half, getting to the CovCath 3, but wound up losing 3 yards and then turning the ball over on downs.
LexCath showed some life early in the second half, stringing together a nine-play, 66-yard scoring drive to pull to within 28-14. Amoh Kumengisa got the TD on a 29-yard burst.
Connelly scored on CovCath's next two possessions, though, to give the Colonels a 41-14 lead through three quarters.
The first of those, a 35-yarder, came on a halfback pass by Gabe Gray. Bir fired the next TD pass, which covered 61 yards.
Gray ran 31 yards for a score with 10:10 left in the game, pushing CovCath's lead to 47-14.
The Knights got a 4-yard touchdown run from Kumangisa with 6:11 left, and Bobby Beatrice scored for CovCath with 5:46 left.
Covington Catholic 7 21 13 13 — 54
Lexington Catholic 7 0 7 7 — 21
CC — Alex Slabaugh 3 pass from Blake Bir (Evan Talkers kick); LC — Adam Bush 77 pass from Kyle Bolin (Jake Pumphrey kick); CC — Brady Reese 4 run (Talkers kick); CC — Alex Connelly 8 pass from Bir (Talkers kick); CC — Chris Schulte 54 pass from Bir (Talkers kick); LC — Amoh Kumengisa 29 run (Pumphrey kick); CC — Connelly 35 pass from Gabe Gray (Talkers kick); CC — Connelly 61 pass from Bir (kick failed); CC — Gray 31 run (kick blocked); LC — Kumangisa 4 run (Pumphrey kick); CC — Bobby Beatrice 7 run (Talkers kick).
Collins 49, North Hardin 42: Branden Cresap passed for three touchdowns and Michael Brooks scored three — two rushing and one via an interception return — as Collins (2-0) outlasted the Trojans.
Cresap completed 18 of 32 passes for 296 yards, including scoring plays of 8, 30 and 12 yards. Two of his passes were intercepted.
Brooks scored on runs of 2 and 7 yards, plus a 65-yard interception return. He also led the Titans with 7.5 tackles.
Collins game MVP Ben Axline scored on receptions of 8 and 12 yards. In all, he caught eight balls for 126 yards. He also averaged 35 yards on four punts and booted six kickoffs.
North Hardin (1-1) was led by quarterback and team MVP Vincent Davis, who threw touchdown passes of 20, 21 and 64 yards, and also ran for a 1-yard score. He finished 15-for-34 passing, with two interceptions, and ran 14 times for 105 yards.
Collins 6 22 7 14 — 49
North Hardin 7 7 13 15 — 42
C — Ben Axline 8 pass from Branden Cresap (kick failed); NH — Naiym Johnson 20 pass from Vincent Davis (Tyler Vanderwedge kick); C — Michael Brooks 2 run (Tavis Elzy pass from Cresap); C — Brooks 65 interception return (Austin Nakatani kick); C — Darian Dugle 9 run (Nakatani kick); NH — Johnson 1 run (Vanderwedge kick); C — Elzy 30 pass from Cresap (Nakatani kick); NH — Trevino Coney 21 pass from Davis (Vanderwedge kick); NH — Avery Price 64 pass from Davis (kick failed); C — Axline 12 pass from Cresap (Nakatani kick); NH — Vincent Dobbins 89 kickoff return (Adam Hendrix pass from Davis); C — Brooks 7 run (Nakatani kick); NH — Davis 1 run (Vanderwedge kick).