Birmingham, AL – In a high-stakes Class 5A, Region 5 battle Friday night at Pat Sullivan Field, the John Carroll Catholic Cavaliers triumphed over the Wenonah Dragons in a 49-35 victory that clinched their first playoff berth since 2009.
The Dragons wasted no time making their presence felt, as Omar Holcomb dashed into the endzone on a 13-yard run early in the contest. Quarterback Anthony Young then connected with Cameron Peterson for a 9-yard touchdown, giving Wenonah an early 13-0 lead.
However, the Cavaliers quickly responded, with Carson McFadden leading the charge. McFadden powered his way into the endzone with a 1-yard burst, narrowing the deficit to 13-7. It was clear that the Cavaliers were determined to make their mark in this crucial matchup.
With the momentum shifting, John Carroll surged ahead in the second quarter. McFadden’s precision pass found Max Plaia in the endzone for a spectacular 55-yard touchdown, putting the Cavs up 14-13 and signaling a change in fortune. But the Dragons were not to be outdone, as Young connected with Demarcus Johnson for a stunning 60-yard scoring strike, reclaiming the lead for the visitors 20-14.
As halftime approached, McFadden and the Cavs refused to go away. With an 18-yard touchdown run, he propelled his team back on top. A successful two-point conversion run by McFadden secured a 22-20 advantage for John Carroll at the break, setting the stage for an electric second half.
The third quarter kicked off with a bang as McFadden, once again displaying his skill, finding Zach Archer on a short route. Archer then sprinted an impressive 66 yards to the endzone, extending the Cavaliers’ lead. Wenonah responded, executing a meticulous 15-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a Dominic Bruce 6-yard touchdown run. Young successfully converted the two-point conversion, leveling the score at 28-28.
The tension mounted, and it was up to the Cavaliers to seize their opportunity. McFadden and Nutter combined forces, as Nutter found McFadden with a perfectly executed running-back-to-quarterback pitch-and-catch, putting John Carroll ahead 35-28. McFadden continued to shine, rushing for a 4-yard touchdown, expanding the lead to 42-28.
The Dragons fought back, as Young connected with Peterson for a 28-yard score, narrowing the gap to 42-35. However, the game ultimately slipped out of their grasp when Nutter dashed 50 yards for a touchdown with just under three minutes remaining. A critical interception by Jackson Rankin with 42 seconds left sealed the victory for the Cavaliers.
McFadden showcased his versatility throughout the game, completing 17-of-27 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns. He also impressed on the ground, rushing for 79 yards on 11 attempts and catching a touchdown pass. Archer emerged as McFadden’s go-to target, reeling in three receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Leading the Cavaliers’ rushing attack was Nutter, who amassed an impressive 150 yards on 22 carries and contributed a touchdown pass to McFadden. The combined efforts of these standout players propelled John Carroll to this memorable victory.
Looking ahead, the Cavaliers will carry their momentum into their final regular-season game, where they will face off against the Maplesville Red Devils (6-3) at Pat Sullivan Field next Friday night. Head coach Will Mara’s Cavs will step into the post season November 10th facing the Boaz Pirates (4-5). The Dragons’ season comes to a close at 6-4.