High School Football: Braun stars as Cahill earns first win at Graham

Graham High School quarterback Gage Braun runs through the Catholic Central High School defense during the Falcons 54-20 victory over the Irish in St. Paris. MICHAEL COOPER/STAFF

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Graham High School quarterback Gage Braun runs through the Catholic Central High School defense during the Falcons 54-20 victory over the Irish in St. Paris. MICHAEL COOPER/STAFF

Graham High School quarterback Gage Braun’s career night gave his new coach his first victory in just his second game with the Falcons.

Braun accounted for six first-half touchdowns as Graham gained more than 550 yards of total offense in a 54-20 non-league victory over Catholic Central – the first for new Falcons head coach Shane Cahill.

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Braun — a four-year starter — stymied the Irish with a variety of ball fakes in their new spread offense, finding holes in the defense both on the ground and through the air.

Graham scored on its first six possessions of the first half – all of them involving Braun. He rushed for three touchdowns, scoring on scrambles of 11, 51 and 24 yards. He also threw three touchdowns passes, two to senior Austin Brayton and another to senior Khrizdon VanHoose.

The credit belonged to his offensive linemen, Braun said.

“I couldn’t have done it without my O-line,” he said. “The big boys blocked for me and we’ve got athletes all over the field and a good coaching staff. We just got it done tonight.”

The Falcons led 34-0 when Catholic Central’s Collin Kelly found Dominic Dewitt on a 19-yard TD pass. The duo hooked up again before the end of the half to make it 41-13.

The Irish pulled within 20 on another TD pass from Kelly to Dewitt.

However, Brayton struck for back-to-back TD runs of 7 and 69 yards to trigger the second-half running clock.

Graham improved to 1-1 after a 28-27 loss to West Liberty-Salem in the season opener. Cahill was excited to get his first win, especially after last week’s close loss. The Falcons need one more victory to match last year’s win total.

“It’s culture,” Cahill said. “We’ve preached culture. That’s what we’ve been working towards, building the family as we’ve been saying. We want to win the moment and respond. It was a hard fought win.”

It’s easy to call plays when you have seniors in the backfield like Braun and Brayton, Cahill said.

“Brayton had a big week last week, so we thought they’d be keying on him and Gage really stepped up,” he said.

Catholic Central coach Mike McKenna was proud of the way his team fought back after it trailed by 34 in the first half, he said.

“I was proud that we didn’t hang our heads, but talent prevailed,” McKenna said. “That backfield duo they’ve got is some of the quickest kids I’ve seen in a long time. I saw it on film and I was worried about it. We couldn’t even get to him to make a hit sometimes. It was rough. They’ve got a talented team.”

The Falcons (1-1) travel to Lehman Catholic in Week 3, while Catholic Central (1-1) travels to Triad (0-2).

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