Alex Darras received the good news Thursday. Notre Dame's No. 1 quarterback could play on Friday, three weeks after undergoing leg surgery.
He relieved Nicholas Coronis in the second half, but time ran out on his return. Knoxville Catholic ended a chaotic fourth quarter with a 15-12 high school football win at Notre Dame.
"I thought he gave them a little burst," Knoxville Catholic coach Steve Matthews said. "I'm glad he didn't play the whole game."
Matthews' quarterback, Zac Jancek, set a career high with 268 yards on 21-of-35 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. He helped Catholic (1-0) accumulate 427 yards of total offense with six teammates sharing rushing responsibilities. Chase Kureschen caught nine passes for a career-high 133 yards.
Notre Dame running back Auston Banks rushed for 150 yards -- including a 49-yard touchdown -- on 22 carries. He wasn't in on the last play of the game. Banks dropped to his knees to catch a screen pass. The clock kept ticking because Notre Dame had no timeouts and was 35 yards away from the end zone.
Banks dropped to the ground and officials stopped the clock, giving Notre Dame a chance to call a play on fourth down.
"I wanted the play clock to run out," Notre Dame coach Charles Fant said. "For a second I thought I made a mistake because they weren't winding the play clock."
Chase Kuerschen intercepted Darras' final pass, but two flags decorated the field. The referee signaled they were offsetting and held the ball in the air, proclaiming the end of the game.
"When you put in all this work you feel for the guys," said Darras, who completed 9 of 19 passes for 78 yards and two interceptions. "We kept fighting and gave ourselves a chance."
Knoxville Catholic's first-quarter game plan proved to be effective. Its first drive took six plays, covered 55 yards and included five players getting early touches.
Sophomore Amari Rogers ended the drive in a hurry with a 35-yard scamper around the left side or a touchdown. Catholic converted a two-point try.
"The start was pretty great offensively," Matthews said. "We ran the same plays all game."
Notre Dame responded when Banks scooted 49 yards through the right side of the line for a touchdown. A botched snap left his team stuck on six points.
Catholic senior Jordan Anderson hauled in a deep pass along the right sideline from Jancek for a 44-yard score and a 15-6 lead.
"Just like last year, they jumped on us early," Fant said. "I know their guys can come up with a good game plan."
Notre Dame didn't allow any points after the first quarter. But it also mustered only two field goals in the second half.
"We never could find a way to get back in the end zone," Fant said. "At the end, we were too far for a field goal. I thought we could get a first down and spike the ball."
Darras didn't get that chance.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...