Holy Cross’ first-half dominance simply trumped Catholic High’s third-quarter flicker of hope.
The sixth-seeded Tigers rode a 27-point first half and their defense made it stand up with a 27-13 victory Friday over the third-seeded Bears in a Division I select state quarterfinal at Olympia Stadium.
“You dig yourself a hole against an outstanding team like they are, it’s tough,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “My hat’s off to (Holy Cross coach) Barry (Wilson) and his team. They’re good on both sides.”
Quarterback Michael Tabary passed for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns, leading Holy Cross (9-2) to its second straight semifinal appearance, where the Tigers will host No. 2 Byrd, a 24-0 winner over Shaw, next week.
“We’re moving on, and we’re one game away from the Dome, which is where we’re striving for,” Wilson said. “I thought our kids played extremely hard, but that’s what penalities do when you give away the third quarter.”
Catholic (8-3), which had 43 yards at halftime, climbed back into contention during a furious four-minute span of the third quarter.
After recovering an onside kick, courtesy of an unsportsmanlike penalty against Holy Cross to conclude the first half, Derrius Guice (25 carries for 104 yards) scored three plays later from 6 yards away.
The Bears made it 27-13 on their next possession with their first extended drive — moving 50 yards in seven plays — with quarterback Danny Cameron connecting with wide receiver Landon Flowers on a 15-yard touchdown at the 7:34 mark.
Catholic had the ball five more times over the last 19 minutes but managed to cross midfield once, reaching Holy Cross’ 36 only to to punt the ball with 43 seconds left in third quarter.
“I love the way we came out in the second half,” Weiner said. “Our kids were energized. We’re never going to quit. I’m proud of our team and just battled until the end.”
Holy Cross’ defense registered six sacks, including two in the fourth quarter, for minus 40 yards and limited Catholic to 181 yards.
“Our defense is tough, and they’re playing better and better every week,” said Wilson. “Our front four is super and our linebackers and secondary did a great job. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Conversly, Catholic’s defense shut out Holy Cross in the second half and held the Tigers to 61 of their 376 yards.
Holy Cross puncuated its impressive first-half performance with a 98-yard drive that resulted in a 31-yard touchdown pass in which Tabary’s pass deflected off Catholic defensive back Ryan Mixon at the 2 and into the hands of Michael Chigbu (4-48) in the end zone.
Tabary touched of Holy Cross’ initial scoring drive with 3 of 4 passing for 39 yards, setting up Todd Spriggins’ 25-yard scoring burst over the left side.
The Tigers scored on four straight possessions, getting a big defensive stand from Jacob Mahoney and Matthew Collet to snuff out a fourth-and-one carry from Coomes, to set up Tabary’s 49-yard strike to Darius Rodrigue, who pulled away from defenders over the last 25 yards for the 14-0 lead.
A 56-yard gain from Tre’ Turner led to his own 1-yard TD and 20-0 lead with 5:36 remaining before halftime when Holy Cross traveled 98 yards in just over two minutes — capped by Chigbu’s heroics with 1:41 showing.
“Our defense hung in there and all of sudden they broke a few big plays,” Weiner said. “We just didn’t respond. During the season our team’s been good about responding and coming back but it didn’t happen and I give them credit.”