“(Knox Catholic) was going. Everyone saw the momentum swing in their favor in that second half — you could feel it in the entire stadium. We never lost faith in our guys,” Pope Prep Justin Geisinger said following his team’s 36-33 win at Knoxville Catholic.
After jumping out to a sizable 21-3 lead after the first quarter, and 26-10 after the second, Pope found themselves down late in Friday night’s football game against the Fighting Irish. Needing a win in the worst way, the Knights stayed true to their core values and found a signature win for their program.
“They stayed the course, stayed the mission, and they got it done in a key situation when all the momentum was against them,” Geisinger said. “That was a signature win for this program and the mentality we will need as we move forward.”
Junior signal caller Kenny Minchey finished the win 27/40 for 488 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with his three favorite targets Colin Cook (10), Steph Carter (8), and Jackson Noble (5) for a combined 459 yards.
Carter paced the receiving core with 198 yards on eight catches while junior Colin Cook snagged 10 balls for 173 yards and one score while Noble added 88 yards on five catches and one touchdown.
Elijah Robb ran back with only 41 yards on 12 carries and one score but added 29 yards on three grabs through the air.
Geisinger said part of the game plan was to air the football out.
“Their strength was their box,” Geisinger said. “To date, the best defensive line we have played. We knew coming in we wanted to throw to try and set up the run. We did a nice job of changing tempo a bit which kept them on their heels. When you can throw the ball around with the targets we have — that is something we are going to utilize.”
Added Geisinger on senior Steph Carter and his stellar campaign through eight games.
“Steph is as good as anyone on that football field,” Geisinger said. “He is super smart, a great route runner, and could play anywhere on the offense for how well he knows it. We have full trust in him and his understanding of the game plan. He does a great job of finding space and knows perimeter football — he is the leader out there from that standpoint. Steph has been incredibly consistent for us, and just extremely happy with this season for him. We will need him as we continue through our season.”
Carter is second in team receptions with 40, second in yards with 688, and second in touchdowns — only trailing Colin Cook.
Now that the Knights have another signature win to add to their program, Geisinger says the team now needs to find the edge in each game.
“The edge is the difference between a good football team and an elite football team. We are a good football program right now, but to be elite, we have to find ways to win games like this consistently.”
Following a 34 yard touchdown catch from Kenny Minchey to Colin Cook to tie the game at 33-33, Pope kicker Andrew Southard gave his team the victory as time expired with a 47-yard field goal.
“While it wasn’t pretty the whole time when you got a guy like Andrew Southard to make that field goal look easy certainly helps. I’m proud of our kids because I know they gave it everything they had. I don’t know how much they had left in the tank after that game.”