Shawnee’s Kohlton Sine didn’t expect to score a touchdown on opening night. He didn’t expect to recover four fumbles either … in the first half.
“I think I got a little bit more excited with every fumble recovery,” said Sine, a junior and first-year starter at linebacker. “It was really fun.”
Sine returned his fourth straight fumble recovery 24 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. It was Shawnee’s eighth touchdown on the way to an 82-7 rout of Catholic Central in the last meeting of their long rivalry.
“I didn’t see it coming.” Sine said of the touchdown when Central quarterback Ryan Fain was sacked. “It was like ‘Wow! This is happening.’ ”
Sine’s night — the four fumble recoveries came in the space of five Central possessions — was something unique to Shawnee coach Rick Meeks.
“It has to be some sort of record, I would think,” Meeks said. “Kohlton has a nose for the ball.”
Central’s first-half nightmare included six fumbles, one on an onside kick after Shawnee’s first score. After the Braves’ second score, Kaitlyn Gregory’s kickoff was not fielded and Peyton Knisley recovered for the Braves at the 40. It was just the beginning of what would become a 62-0 halftime lead.
“It’s all about learning to compete,” said Central coach Steve Dewitt after his 37th opener as the Irish head coach. “We’re young, we’ve got to deal with it and we can’t run from the issue. I wish there was something poetic I could say that would make it feel better. But the more it hurts the more we have to decide we want to do something about it.”
Because of the turnovers and kickoff problems the Braves started every first-half possession in Central territory. The fumbles and good field position allowed the Braves to score three touchdowns in the span of 1:08 to build their lead to 28-0 with six minutes left in the first quarter.
Sine’s fumble recoveries were just the beginning of the first-half statistical onslaught.
Take a deep breath: Total offense favored the Braves 287 to minus 63; Jalen Nelson rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns; Clay Phillips scored two touchdowns; Saalih Muhammad completed 5 of 6 passes for 110 yards and a 36-yard touchdown to Phillips; Kaitlyn Gregory made 8 of 9 extra-point kicks and kicked off 10 times. And Zach Avery cut back across the field for a 39-yard punt return for a touchdown.
For the game, Shawnee rushed for 446 yards and outgained Central 556 to 126.