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3 takeaways from Montgomery Catholic's 21-16 state Class 3A title loss to Fyffe at Super 7

Nick Alvarez
Montgomery Advertiser

TUSCALOOSA —  Montgomery Catholic (12-3) lost to Fyffe (15-0), 21-16, in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 3A title game. 

The Knights, led by coach Aubrey Blackwell, couldn't hold off the Red Devils’ second-half comeback and blew a 16-point lead. Here are three takeaways from Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

Wrong side of a comeback 

With 1:05 remaining, Ike Rowell ran in the game-winning touchdown for Fyffe. It capped 21 straight Red Devil points and preserved their now 45-game winning streak. 

Catholic's defense had held for a goal-line stand on the previous drive. But Fyffe forced Montgomery Catholic into a safety after a high snap carried Knights punter Gabe Russo out of the back of the end zone. 

Rowell (143 rushing yards, 155 passing yards and three total touchdowns) targeted Brody Dalton repeatedly. Catholic couldn't cover Fyffe's 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end across the middle before Rowell secured Fyffe's third-straight state title. 

The Knights regained possession and reached Fyffe's 34-yard line for the final play. Freshman quarterback Caleb McCreary evaded a sack and chucked a prayer downfield. But the pass rattled off the hands of a receiver as the clock expired. 

"Everybody sold out on this one," Blackwell said. "...You had a chance to win at the end, you can't ask for much else." 

Catholic wide receiver Myles Butler (14) catches a screen pass from Catholic quarterback Caleb McCreary (1) before running it in for a touchdown during the Class 3A State Championship game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Montgomery Catholic leads Fyffe 16-6 at halftime.

Catholic survives special teams miscues until it doesn't 

Before the fourth-quarter safety finally swung momentum in Fyffe's favor, Montgomery Catholic barely escaped two earlier special teams gaffes. 

In the final minute of the first half, Montgomery Catholic settled for a field goal attempt inside the 10-yard line.  Rowell blocked the kick and carried it 98-yards for an apparent touchdown. But the play clock had expired and the points came off the board. 

On the Knights' first punt in the third quarter, the snap sailed over Russo's head and rolled 10 yards behind him. Russo scrambled and punted the ball past a diving white jersey. 

Explosive offense sparks Knights early 

This offseason, Blackwell brought in a new offensive coordinator and system to feature more spread concepts. The changes led to the highest-scoring season in program history. The Knights' first-half showing in the Super 7 may have been their best start. 

They scored on their first three possessions for an early lead. McCreary (188 passing yards, two touchdowns) danced in the pocket and delivered throws on the run. He converted a couple of early third downs with a well-timed pass.

Senior Myles Butler(109 receiving yards) caught two touchdowns, snagging a diving grab for a 13-yard score and breaking free on a bubble screen for a 56-yard touchdown. 

"We've built every year from (when I was in) sixth grade to now," Butler said.