Saturday’s Tennessee/Georgia match-up wasn’t the only nail-biter of the weekend. Catholic and St. Rose played an exhilarating, see-saw battle with Catholic surviving to claim a 34-28 victory.
Murfreesboro’s St. Rose and Catholic engaged in an epic battle between two of the better middle school teams in the area. The St. Rose Stars entered the contest with one loss, while Catholic is undefeated and in the midst of a 27-game win streak.
Alex Osborne offered a gutsy performance for Catholic, gaining 311 yards on 25 carries and scoring four touchdowns.
St. Rose received the opening kick-off. On their third play Catholic’s defensive captain Bennett Brinson intercepted an errant pass near mid-field. It was the fifth game in a row Brinson has recorded an interception.
Shortly thereafter, Osborne ran wide right behind pulling guard Maverick Tucker and streaked 52 yards for the first score of the game. Osborne then bull-dozed his way into the end-zone for the conversion, giving Catholic an early 8-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession St. Rose reached mid-field before Maverick Tucker forced a turnover.
Catholic drove the ball to the St. Rose 8-yard line and then punched the ball into the end-zone. However, the score was nullified due to a holding call. St. Rose took over on downs.
Two plays later St. Rose completed a 68-yard scoring “bomb” when quarterback Ian Schlacter threw a perfect pass to speedy receiver Frankie Carerras. After a conversion score by A.J. Akers, the scored stood 8-8.
Catholic took the kick-off and proceeded to drive the ball into the red-zone once again. The drive was stymied when St. Rose picked off a pass in the end-zone which was returned to the nine yard line. The very next play St. Rose again hit pay-dirt when Carerras hauled in a pass from Schlater and then scampered the distance for a 91-yard touchdown. The conversion failed, and St. Rose led 14-8.
Catholic’s next drive was stopped by an interception by Carerras. The game stood 14-8 at the half.
Catholic had not trailed all season. How the Rams would respond was answered on Catholic’s opening drive of the second half.
Catholic started in great field position after a Charlie Menham 31-yard return. Catholic’s line (Ben Bambrey, Maverick Tucker, Tucker Berry, Andy McGann, Boston Eberly, Fran Palacios, Christian Kidwell) opened running lanes for Menham and Christian Robinson. Osborne then broke three tackles en route to a 31-yard touchdown (conversion failed), tying the game 14-14.
St. Rose took little time to respond. On the fourth play, the Stars scored yet again on a Schlacter to Carerras connection. After Akers’ successful conversion the score stood 22-14.
Catholic responded with an impressive drive culminating in yet another Osborne TD, this time an 11-yard run following Bambrey’s downfield blocking. The conversion failed, and St. Rose led 22-20.
Catholic managed a stop on St. Rose’s next possession. The teams then exchanged uncharacteristic turnovers. Osborne fumbled the ball to St. Rose, but redeemed himself the very next play when he forced a fumble, recovered by Berry. The play ended the third quarter, with the score 22-20.
Catholic opened the fourth quarter by mounting a time-consuming 10-play drive that culminated with a touchdown run by quarterback C.J. Petrin. The conversion was successful as running back Brinson passed to Menham, giving Catholic its first lead since early in the game, 28-22.
The ensuing kick-off was pivotal. Catholic employed an on-side kick, which was alertly recovered by Sean Green. Five plays later Osborne followed Tucker into the end-zone for his fourth touchdown of the day, providing Catholic a 34-22 lead. Menham again added the conversion making the score 36-22.
St. Rose quickly moved the ball downfield, eventually scoring on a 4-yard run by Jaylon Campbell. The conversion attempt was stymied by Eberly’s hit on the quarterback, who bobbled the ball into the hands of Berry. The score stood 34-28.
Catholic recovered St. Rose’s on-side attempt and managed to squeeze out two first downs and run out the clock.
The Catholic faithful breathed a sigh of relief after the back and forth contest. Catholic’s starting defense had given up only two touchdowns all season prior to the game, but St. Rose gave the Rams defense fits.
“We had to make wholesale changes at half-time just to slow them down,” commented defensive Coach Billy Dearing. “That was the best offense we have faced in years – – our db’s Eric Lindsey, Andy McGann , Jacob Howard, Cameron Elliott and Christian Robinson had their hands full, but they came through when it mattered.
“Today was a total team effort. Maverick (Tucker), Ben (Bambrey) and the line were outstanding, and what an absolute warrior Alex (Osborne) was today,” Dearing continued. “Wow- – what a game!”
Coach Bucky Dearing added that it was one of the best games in his 20 years of coaching.
“The whole coaching staff is to be commended, and our TCB (taking care of business) players really pulled together and played as one,” Coach Bucky Dearing said.
The game ended St. Rose’s season, while Catholic will finish its season with a home game against Chattanooga Christian on Thursday, October 6 at Billy Warren Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.
_ L.D. Scott