By Kyle Shaner
SPRINGFIELD – Bradford scored a late touchdown to avoid the shutout in a 39-8 loss to Springfield Catholic Central on a rainy Friday night in Springfield.
“We didn’t play well tonight, and that happens,” Bradford football coach Nathan Hyatt said. “We’re disappointed that we didn’t play well. They came out and played great. They executed and fundamentally I thought they were really sound. They executed their schemes. A lot of their kids, they’re three-year starters now. You could tell that.”
Right from the beginning Bradford was in trouble as Catholic Central took the game’s opening drive 63 yards in eight plays for a score with Cossy Catanzaro connecting with Jake Fitzimmons for a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
Bradford went three-and-out on its first offensive possession of the night and then had a low snap on the punt that set up Catholic Central at the Railroader 33-yard line.
The Bradford defense hung tough, though, which coupled with a pair of Fighting Irish holding penalties forced a punt.
The momentum didn’t stay with Bradford for long, however, as the Railroaders went three-and-out again. Then two plays later Dominic Dewitt raced 47 yards for a touchdown to put Catholic Central up 13-0 with 4:11 left in the first quarter.
The score remained 13-0 into the second quarter when Catholic Central blocked a Bradford punt to give the Irish the ball at the Railroader 25-yard line. That set up a four-play drive for Catholic Central that was capped off with a 4-yard touchdown run by Dewitt to make it 20-0 with 8:49 remaining in the period.
Bradford got its offense going on the following possession with the Railroaders gaining three first downs and moving into Catholic Central territory. However, the drive ended with an Irish interception at the Catholic Central 16-yard line.
Catholic Central continued to add to its lead on the ensuing possession as the Irish marched 84 yards in seven plays with Matt Sheehan catching a 4-yard touchdown pass from Catanzaro to make it 26-0, which was the score entering halftime.
“One of my good friends here he came down here,” Hyatt said. “I coached with him at (Chaminade-Julienne ) for a long time. As we were walking into halftime he said, ‘You’ve got to remember where you’re at in this thing.’ And that was really good advice. We have a long ways to go.”
Both teams started out the second half with possessions ending in punts. Bradford’s second possession also saw the Railroaders line up for a punt, which was botched and allowed Catholic Central to take over at the Railroader 20-yard line.
“We had some penalties and made some mistakes,” Hyatt said. “We keep reminding ourselves that it’s a process and it’s a long process.”
The Irish took advantage of the excellent field position and scored two plays later on a 9-yard run by Fitzimmons with 6:03 left in the quarter to make it 32-0 and start the running clock.
Catholic Central scored its final touchdown of the night with 10:06 left in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Colin Kelly ran 1 yard for a touchdown, making it 39-0.
Bradford then got the ball, and on a third-and-14 play Bryson Canan busted free for a 57-yard touchdown run to get the Railroaders on the scoreboard.
“It was good to see us do that,” Hyatt said. “And more so than the touchdown … we did things right on that play. We blocked well. We hit the hole correctly, and he had some good vision, and he bounced it outside, and he finished it off. So it was good to see us do things correctly and then have a positive result for it.”
Canan also ran in the two-point conversion and made it a 39-8 game.
The Railroaders then recovered an onside kick, but the drive went nowhere and Catholic Central recovered a Bradford fumble to end the game.
For the night Catholic Central unofficially outgained Bradford with 347 yards to the Railroaders’ 128. Bradford had 48 rushing yards and 80 passing yards while Catholic Central had 236 rushing yards and 111 passing yards.
Five Railroaders carried the ball Friday night with only Canan netting positive yards. He had 78 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
Bradford quarterback Andy Branson went 6-for-19 for 80 yards and an interception. Walker Branson caught three passes for 22 yards, and Tyler Gunter caught one pass for 35 yards to lead the Railroader receivers.
Dewitt led Catholic Central with 190 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Kelly had two carries for 10 yards and a touchdown.
Fitzimmons carried the ball once for a 9-yard touchdown. He also caught a 9-yard touchdown pass.
Sheehan caught two passes for 11 yards and a touchdown. Thomas Kavanagh caught three passes for 45 yards.
Catanzaro was 10-for-13 passing for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Bradford fell to 0-3 with the loss to Catholic Central. The Railroaders play their first home game of the season on Friday when Hillcrest travels up to Bradford from Cincinnati.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports. For more features online go to advocate360.org or ‘like The Daily Advocate’ on Facebook by searching Advocate360.