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Thomas More comeback win in first GMAC game headlines big college, high school football weekend

By Dan Weber
NKyTribune sports reporter

A big comeback win for Thomas More’s Saints in their first-ever Great Midwest Athletic Conference NCAA Division II game against Ohio Dominican highlighted last week’s football action in Northern Kentucky.

Down 14-0 midway through the first period, the Saints rallied around four interceptions for an 18-17 victory Saturday night before a big crowd at Republic Bank Field.

Colton Sandhas, TMU (Photo provided)

After giving up a 52-yard touchdown pass and a short drive for a score after a muffled punt attempt, TMU took charge with redshirt junior Tanner Lawrence’s (Campbell County HS) interception getting things going against the Columbus, Ohio, Panthers. That first interception didn’t get the Saints on the board but the next one did, 19-yard pick-six by junior Christian Rice from Louisville Eastern, leaving TMU down, 14-6, at halftime.

Another muffed punt gave the ODU Panthers a scoring shot at the TMU 18 early in the second half but a Colton Sandhas (Cincinnati Elder) interception ended that threat before a field goal put Dominican up, 17-6. That’s when TMU’s offense got in gear for a 12-play, 76-yard scoring drive with Jaden Hall’s (Springfield, Ohio Shawnee) three-yard run making it 17-12 after a failed two-point point attempt late in the game.

But a three-and-out gave TMU a final shot with 6:38 from their own 37-yard line and the Saints once again drove the ball down the field, converting twice on long third-down attempts. The go-ahead score came on a Rae’ Von Vaden (Louisville Moore) five-yard pass to Mike Kirch (Cincinnati Elder) for the final 18-17 margin.

Another Sandhas INT and a pair of sacks from Lawrence and Ross Halverstadt (Covington/Covington Catholic) would shut down ODU’s final two possessions preserving the victory for TMU (2-1, 1-0 in the GMAC). This was the second career game (also against Bluefield State in 2022) for Sandhas to record two INTs.

Vaden with 80 yards passing and 78 on the ground, and Hall, also with 78 rushing yards, led the TMU offense. Freddie Johnson (Cincinnati Colerain) led the Saints in receiving with four catches for 31 yards. Isaac Abdon (Erlanger Lloyd Memorial) led TMU with seven tackles (one tackle for loss) while Lawrence and Halverstadt were credited with 1.5 sacks each.

UP NEXT: TMU continues GMAC play Saturday in North Canton, Ohio, for a noon game against the Walsh University Cavaliers.


Nathan Smith,Campbell County(Photo provided)

• Great bounce-back for Campbell County: Nice work by the 2-3 Camels and quarterback Nathan Smith in their 43-22 romp over Newport Central Catholic. All Smith did in leading his Camels to 419 yards of offense was to hit on 10 of 17 passing for 137 yards and two TDs with no interceptions. Then he ran the ball for 119 yards and another two TDs.

• Kruer’s two-way numbers: Not only did junior Tate Kruer’s seven tackles and fumble recovery lead the Colonels, No. 1 in the KHSAA’s RPI for Class 4A this week, but he also managed a 17-yard TD catch as CovCath outlasted a never-say-die Beechwood team that put up 308 yards of offense to CovCath’s 298.

• How about Highlands: Offense and more offense was the name of the game for the Bluebirds in their 40-0 win over Class A power Raceland. Quarterbacks Rio Litmer (18 of 24 for 196 yards passing) and Brody Benke (14 of 20 passing for 150 yards 12 carries for 59 yards) fueled the attack for the now No. 1 Birds (4-1) in Class 5A RPI.

• Under-the-radar Lloyd Memorial just keeps firing away: They may be only No. 12 in the KHSAA’s RPI in Class 3A but the unbeaten Juggernauts (5-0) look to be a lot better than that with a 53-7 romp over Bishop Brossart powered by 360 yards rushing. Tailback Yurii Collins Comer had 119 of those on 14 carries with two TDs while quarterback Isaiah Sebastian had 101 on eight as the Juggs piled up 414 yards of offense. On defense, 23 different Juggs made tackles.

• Newport moving on up: With a 16-14 squeaker over Ludlow, Newport’s Wildcats find themselves ahead of NewCath now in the Class A as the pair of Newport teams are settled in at the Nos. 9-10 spots statewide. Quarterback Kyle Lee’s 160 passing yards on 14-of-28 passing for one TD countered Ludlow’s 199-to-11-yards advantage on the ground for the 1-3 Panthers.

• Walton-Verona extends Holmes’ streak: After a 41-0 loss to Class 2A Walton-Verona, winless Holmes (0-5) suffered its second shutout in a season where the Bulldogs have been outscored 219-22 and now have to travel to their new 4A district-mate CovCath Friday. Jackson Smith, with 136 yards on nine carries, with two TDs, and Carter Daniels, also with two TDs on eight carries for 76 yards, led the winning Bearcats.

• Beechwood trio putting up numbers: The No. 3 RPI Tigers fell short against CovCath but not for lack of production from quarterback Clay Hayden’s 16 of 25 passing for 240 yards and a TD despite having missed two possessions after being shaken up while freshman Tyler Fryman ran the ball four times for 63 yards and two TDs and caught four passes for 67 and also grabbed an interception in a 35-31 loss to CovCath. Placekicker Colson Lair moved into No. 3 in the KHSAA’s stat leaders for PATs with 28 of 29.

• Simon Kenton’s Turner moving up stat leader list: With 164 yards on the ground in the Pioneers’ big win over Conner, junior tailback Durell Turner has moved up to No. 7 in the KHSAA with 654 yards in four games – a 164-yard average.

Contact Dan Weber at dweber3440@aol.com. Follow him @dweber3440 on X (formerly Twitter).

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