CovCath comes up short in a heart breaker

LEXINGTON, Kentucky – The Covington Catholic Colonels came back from a 20-point third quarter deficit but fell just short of winning its second straight 5A state championship falling to South Warren 20-16 at Kroger Field.

Ultimately it was mistakes that snapped the Colonels 29-game winning streak that dated back to the first game of the 2017 season. Three turnovers and a blocked punt spelled doom and gloom on this windy afternoon in Lexington. 

South Warren got on the scoreboard first thanks to a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gavin Spurrier to wide receiver Jantzen Dunn.

Cov Cath’s Luke Summe, who had recovered a fumble earlier in the first quarter, coughed up the ball returning the ensuing kickoff and South Warren took over again at the Colonels 36-yard line.

Five plays later Spurrier connected with Caleb Lloyd for an 11-yard scoring play. The extra point kick attempt was missed giving the Spartans a 13-0 lead that South Warren took into the locker room at halftime.

Spurrier, the grandson of former Heisman trophy winning quarterback Steve Spurrier, threw for 237 yards on 17-for-30 and two scores.

Cov Cath had only trailed in a game this season as late as the second quarter just two times but found themselves behind 13-0 at halftime.

The Colonels offense that averaged 41 points per game during the regular season was stuck in neutral during the first half. South Warren’s defense, lead in part by Notre Dame commit Jacob Lacey.

The Cov Cath defense came out inspired to start the second half holding South Warren to a three-and-out possession.

The Colonels offense got the ball back with excellent field possession but still could not generate a scoring drive. Forced to punt from the Spartans 36-yard line, Lacey shot the gap and got a hand on the ball that was picked up by Isaac Young. Young returned it 45 yards all the way to the 10-yard line.

Cam Harrison, who carried the ball 25 times for 80 yards, scored from the two-yard line and after Eldar Dervisevic converted the extra point South Warren had a 20-0 advantage just three minutes into the second half.

It looked bleak for the Colonels but Covington Catholic showed determination and heart beginning its comeback. Sophomore quarterback Caleb Jacob was able to get the passing game in gear. Jacob completed a 23-yard pass to running back Casey McGinness and threw a bomb to tight end Michael Mayer (Notre Dame commit) for a 58-yard touchdown strike.

Early in the fourth quarter, McGinness broke off a 77-yard touchdown run that made it a one-score game cutting the deficit to 20-14.

The Colonels defense forced South Warren to punt again and Cov Cath started on its own 43-yard line. The drive was kick started by a 30-yard completion to Mayer who finished with a game-high 109 yards on five receptions.

On 2nd-and-4 from the nine-yard line, McGinness took the handoff and made it inside the five. As he was fighting for extra yardage it appeared that his forward progress had been stopped. No whistle was blown and the ball came loose. It was recovered by South Warren’s Rowdy Shea with 3:06 left in the game.

The Cov Cath defense forced South Warren to punt but instead Clayton Bush ran the ball out of the end zone for a safety with just 59 seconds to play.

The Colonels had one last chance but Jacobs’ pass to Jack Coldiron put an end to the game and a shot at back-to-back state championships.

South Warren, who is only in its 11th season as a football program, won its second state championship and avenged last year’s 43-7 loss to Cov Cath in the state semifinal round. 

The loss was Covington Catholic’s first ever in a state title game winning its previous seven attempts.

Before the game it was announced that McGinnes and Eddie Eviston won the 5A Player and Coach of the Year awards respectively.


Cov Cath 0-0-7-9 – 16

South Warren 13-0-7-0 – 20


SW – Jantzen Dunn 43-yard TD catch from Gavin Spurrier (Eldar Dervisevic)

SW – Caleb Lloyd 11-yard TD catch from Gavin Spurrier (kick failed)

SW – Cam Harrison 2-yard TD run (Eldar Dervisevic kick)

CC – Michael Mayer 58-yard TD catch from Caleb Jacob (Trey Gronotte kick)

CC – Casey McGinness 77-yard TD run (Trey Gronotte kick)

CC – TEAM Safety

RECORDS: Cov Cath (14-1); South Warren (15-0)

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