Cathedral jumped out to a 21-0 lead against Center Grove on Senior Night Friday, then held on to win 21-14 in a high school football regular season finale at Arsenal Tech. Senior linebacker Hugh Davis returned a fumble 94 yards for an Irish touchdown in the third quarter to provide what turned out to be the winning margin.
Early in the second quarter, Cathedral took over possession of the ball at the Center Grove 38-yard-line after Trojan punter P.J. Buck failed to get a first down on a fake punt run that was stopped short by Irish senior linebacker Jackson Barrow. Four plays later, senior running back Markese Stepp ran 36 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
The Trojans started the next drive at midfield and moved to Cathedral’s 16-yard-line before junior linebacker George Kirch recovered a Center Grove fumble. The Irish offense responded with an eight-play, 83-yard scoring drive. Sophomore quarterback Roman Purcell got the drive moving when he scooped up a snap over his head and connected on a 49-yard completion to sophomore receiver Jordan Thomas. Stepp finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown plunge on fourth and goal.
Trailing 14-0 at the half, Center Grove took the second-half kickoff and methodically marched down the field before freshman running back Carson Steele fumbled for the second time resulting in Davis’ fumble return TD. The Trojans scored on their next two possessions as junior quarterback Jackson Moore completed touchdown passes of 20 and 22 yards respectively to Gavin Matheson and Riley Roberts.
Center Grove had three fourth-quarter possessions, but the Cathedral defense stopped every attempt to tie the game allowing the Trojans just 19 yards of offense and two first downs in the final period. Junior defensive back Bo Sanders intercepted Moore’s final pass on fourth and 17 with one minute remaining to seal the victory.
Junior running back Chon’Dre Cissell led the Cathedral offense with 93 yards rushing on 26 carries. Purcell completed five of his seven passes for 76 yards, while junior tight end Haven Montefalco caught three of those passes. Center Grove’s Moore was eight of 20 passing for 151 yards, but the Irish sacked him three times and Sanders intercepted him twice. Steele gained 93 yards on 20 rushing attempts.
Cathedral’s victory evens the all-time series with Center Grove at three wins each. The Trojans defeated the Irish by a touchdown or less in each of the last three seasons. Both schools finish the regular season with records of 4-5 heading into a bye week before starting tournament play on October 27. With the win, Cathedral remains unbeaten, 3-0, against Indiana schools this season.
The Fighting Irish return to Arsenal Tech High School in two weeks to face rival Roncalli in Class 5-A Sectional 13. Cathedral has won its last ten games against the Rebels, but the two teams have not played since 2012 when the Irish won their 4-A sectional title game 38-7 at Tech. It will be the 17th time the two teams have met in the tournament with Cathedral owning a 9-7 advantage in post-season play. Roncalli concluded the regular season 8-1 with a 24-14 win over Guerin Catholic Friday night.