COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – On Monday in Nashville, shortly after receiving his second Mr. Football Award, Catholic offensive lineman Cade Mays predicted victory in Thursday’s Class 5A BlueCross Bowl.
The 5-star prospect and All-American wasn’t happy with how last season ended after having won a 4A title in 2015. And he wanted to polish off his decorated high school career with a state championship.
Though he missed the final 6 minutes because of his injured left ankle, Mays and Catholic won the school’s third title overall and second in the last three years via a 45-28 win Thursday night over previously unbeaten Beech.
Quarterback Jack Sompayrac, a senior at Catholic (12-3), won the offensive MVP honors. He threw for 162 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
Catholic now has state titles in Class 3A (2008), 4A (2015) and 5A (2017).
For a majority of the first half, Tucker Stadium sounded like the nearby library – that was, until Beech QB Nelson Smith’s high-arching pass fell into Dyilin Hoosier’s hands with 21 seconds left in the second quarter.
It was Hoosier’s second TD reception of the half. But, more importantly, it cut Catholic’s lead to 24-14 just before the break.
The Irish stormed to that 24-7 lead behind 112 yards passing and two scores from Jack Sompayrac to DaShon Bussell. Catholic also rushed for 170 yards and a touchdown (Josh Brown 1-yard run). Furthermore, Catholic limited Kaemon Dunlap, a 5-foot-5 running back with some 2,300-yards this season, to 36 yards on nine carries – and no TDs.
Dunlap, however, broke free with 8:25 left in the third quarter, and he raced 20 yards for a Beech TD to trim the deficit to 24-21. Dunlapfinished with 109 yards on 20 carries.
Catholic responded with a Sompayrac 9-yard touchdown run 4:25 later, taking advantage of D.J. Mitchell’s kickoff return to the 50 and increasing the lead to 31-21.
Catholic rebuilt its 17-point advantage about 3 minutes later when sophomore defensive lineman Stiles Moore scooped a Beech fumble and returned it 33 yards for a score.
Once again, the stadium fell silent.
Sompayrac’s 7-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter made sure it stayed that way.
As for Mays, he was relegated to crutches because of his high ankle sprain. And didn't like being off the field to end the game. But he got the title he wanted, nonetheless.