KEARNEY — With a high-energy offense and sound defense, the Kearney Catholic Stars shot by the Chase County Longhorns 35-0 on senior night at Miles Field Friday.
The Class C1 No. 7 Stars (7-0) remain unbeaten heading into their final game of the regular season.
And, they are only getting brighter.
Blame it on the early season cold weather, but a shaky start resulting in a lost fumble was the fuel the Stars needed to get the ball rolling. The Stars’ ground game ran without a hitch as they racked up a total of 261 yards.
“With the weather like it was, we were hoping to control the trenches and run the football more,” Kearney Catholic coach Dave Colling said. “We came out of the gate a little flat, but I thought we responded pretty well later on.”
Following the first-possession fumble, the Stars made their adjustments and scored on their next three drives to lead 21-0. By halftime, they had already tallied 229 yards.
“We fixed what we needed to early on,” Colling said. “The guys did a great job of fixing it on the field, listening to us coaches, and then transposing it to the field, so hats off to those guys.”
What momentum the Stars had rolling into halftime stuck as the first two drives following the half resulted in touchdowns. With 1:22 remaining in the third quarter, a 21-yard run by Thomas Connely put the Stars up 35, initiating a running-clock.
“The whole difference in the game was tempo,” Chase County assistant coach Bob Holman said. “They were much quicker than we were. They had too many people that got out in the open and ran away from us. They beat us with quickness on the line, and in the back field.”
On defense, the Stars shut down any attempt of a Longhorn comeback.
Kearney Catholic held Chase County (4-3) to 39 yards of rushing on 29 attempts — just 1.3 yards per rush.
Senior Brett James intercepted two Longhorn passes as the Stars secondary allowed only 77 yards passing. Chase County managed just five first downs.
“This shutout is huge,” Colling said. “We try to get better each week. They are a really good, physical football team, and I thought our guys played some good football on offense and defense. The defense responded very well getting the offense the ball back quickly.”
Connely led the Stars rushing with 122 yards on 20 carries, and senior quarterback Abe Clinch ran for three touchdowns.
“We get behind quick and then were forced to play catch up,” Holman said. “We connected on some early, and it looked like we were going to compete, then we just didn’t. Our guys played hard all the way. Kearney Catholic is a good team, they did some things different tonight and defended very well.”
Kearney Catholic 35, Chase County 0
Score By Quarters
CHASE COUNTY (4-3)........................0 0 0 0 — 0
KEARNEY CATHOLIC (7-0)..............7 14 14 0 — 35
KC — Abe Clinch 3 run (Chase Murphy kick)
KC — Clinch 11 run (Murphy kick)
KC — Brett James 42 pass from Clinch (Murphy kick)
KC — Clinch 1 run (Murphy kick)
KC — Thomas Connely 21 run (Grant Buschkoetter kick)
First Downs 20 5
Rushes-Yards 49-261 29-39
Passes Comp.-Att.-Int. 5-13-0 5-15-2
Passing Yards 95 77
Total Yards 356 116
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 3-1
Penalties-Yards lost 10-80 6-50
Punts-Ave, 1-23 7-33.4
RUSING — KC: Thomas Connely 20-122, Alex Lowe 8-41, Abe Clinch 8-37, Bryce James 8-30, Brett James 1-20, Nathan Howe 3-12, Tyler Mestl 1-(minus 1). CC: Justin German 7-21, Michael May 1-15, Trey Milner 10-11, Kale Gockley 2-7, Dan Sullivan 1-3, team 2-(minus 18).
PASSING — KC: Abe Clinch 5-13 95 yards. CC: Kale Gockley 5-14 77 yards, Travis Luhrs 0-1 0 yards.
RECEIVING — KC: Brett James 1-42, Ben Clinch 1-20, Brian Husmann 2-19, Tyler Mestl 1-14. CC: Michael May 2-41, Kevin German 1-30, Trey Milner 1-12, Kelton Fisher 1-(minus 6).