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HOLY WAR: Bethlehem Catholic shuts out Allentown Central Catholic 29-0 to win District 11 4A Title

WHITEHALL – It was just last year when Central Catholic beat Bethlehem Catholic 14-3 on the same field for the District 11 4A championship game. What a difference a year makes. The Golden Hawks’ got their revenge Saturday night shutting out the Vikings 29-0 at Zephyr Stadium for the District 11 4A title.

First-year Bethlehem Catholic Head Coach Ty Ward talked about the win. “It feels amazing and I am so proud of this group,” said Ward. “I told them back in February that the ones that stayed and the ones that bought into what we are going to do are going to be champions.”

Two of the guys who bought into the program led the way. Leading the way for the Bethlehem Catholic was quarterback Cayden Vassa and running back Mekhi Lapierre. Vassa threw for 154 yards and three touchdowns and Lapierre rushed for 143 yards and one score.

The Golden Hawks’ got the ball first and started fast on their opening drive, moving the ball right down the field. On the second play of the game, Vassa took off running down to Central Catholic’s 15. On fourth-and-six, Vassa looked left and rolled right and found Bryce Medina whose tip-toe catch for 11 yards put the Golden Hawks up 6-0.

“It was a huge play and we wanted to start fast,” said Ward. “I think we knew that they were going to try and stop the run a little bit and when they loaded up the box we took some shots.”

The Golden Hawks did just that, they took some shots. Vassa threw a perfect pass to his brother Carter Vassa for what looked like a 54-yard touchdown pass. But an ineligible man downfield penalty wiped out the play. “We need to clean up some of the penalties tonight and we will,” said Ward.

The Golden Hawks looked Golden in the first half. Their pass/run attack kept Central Catholic’s defense off balance. They used a perfect combination of passing and running on their next scoring drive. Mekhi Lapierre finished off the drive with the six-yard touchdown run with 5:55 left in the first half. “We have two amazing backs, Mekhi and Jacob,” said Ward. “Mekhi rarely gets tackled by the first guy and ran well tonight.”

Right before halftime, the Golden Hawks drove 80 yards on eight plays and added to their lead with 46.9 seconds left in the half. The play of the game happened when Vassa passed to Jacob Sutton who avoided the tackle and raced down the sidelines. He dove into the end zone for the score. Vassa to Vassa’s two-point conversion was good.

“I told myself before the game I was going to be aggressive,” said Ward. “What that means is sometimes we’re going to go for it on fourth down. The kids made plays tonight.” The score at halftime was 20-0 Bethlehem Catholic.

The story of the third quarter was the Golden Hawks’ defense. The Vikings punted twice and Ariel Awuah had an interception with 6:08 to go in the quarter, but the defense didn’t break.

After a scoreless third quarter, the special teams shined. A punt by the Golden Hawks’ Jeremy Fryer landed down on the Vikings’ one-yard line. It was a thing of beauty. On the very next play, Bethlehem Catholic’s Sammy Ayache tackled Dante Hamilton for safety with 5:09 remaining in the game.

“We lost some momentum in the third quarter. We needed something to bring us back and our defense did it all night,” said Ward. “They kept us going when our offense stalled a bit. Sammy’s safety is a perfect example of how well the defense played tonight.” The Golden Hawks led 22-0.

The final score of the game was a Vassa to Medina touchdown pass. The pass sealed the win for the Golden Hawks. Bethlehem Catholic faced a fourth-and-eight when Vassa calmly stepped back and hit a wide-open Medina who backpedaled into the end zone for the score.

“On fourth down we knew we had to take a shot,” said Ward. “Bryce, the one who caught it told me all game they were playing him really far inside leverage and he thought we could double move them on the outside. He was right. He ran a really good route and Cayden threw a perfect ball.”

“We are excited to still be going and we know we’ve got another big game ahead of us,” said Coach Ward. “We are going to enjoy this one right now and get ready for the next game.”

With the win, the Golden Hawks move on and will face the District 4 champions Selinsgrove who defeated Jersey Shore Friday night 44-19.

Scoring Summary:

Final 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Bethlehem Catholic (7-5) 6 14 0 9 29
Central Catholic (9-3) 0 0 0 0 0

First Quarter:
BC: Bryce Medina 11-yard pass from Cayden Vassa (kick failed) 8:58

Second Quarter:
BC: Mekhi Lapierre 6-yard run (kick failed) 5:55
BC: Jacob Sutton 43-yard pass from Cayden Vassa (Carter Vassa pass from Cayden Vassa) 0:46.9

Fourth Quarter:
BC: Sammy Ayache tackled Dante Hamilton in the end zone for a safety 5:09
BC: Bryce Medina 32-yard pass from Cayden Vassa (Jeremy Fyrer kick) 3:55

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