Tampa Catholic needed no extra motivation in preparing for Friday night’s game against Berkeley Prep. Prep shattered TC’s playoff dreams last year and from the opening moments of the game you could tell the Crusaders were going to ensure this year’s contest would have a happier ending.
The Crusader’s started the game with a big 16 yard run from Kenny Bryant; yet, the drive would end on the next play with a fumble. The first quarter was a war of attrition as both defenses forced three and outs; however, near the end of the quarter, a key sack from TC junior linebacker Tre Watson forced a Berkeley punt and provided a huge momentum swing. Suddenly, the Tampa Catholic offense began to click, and TJ Harrell ended a 7 play drive with a 6 yard touchdown run.
Berkeley Prep sophomore quarterback Brad Mayes led an impresses drive for the Buccaneers on their next position with both his feet and his arm. The Crusaders killed the promising drive though, with back to back sacks from Dominic Bourne and Tyler Meany.
Kenny Bryant was a workhouse for the Crusader’s all night, finishing with 126 yards and a 63 yard touchdown run, which occurred on TC’s next offensive drive. This gave the Crusaders a commanding 13-0 lead. Berkley Prep’s offense would continue to fight; yet, the sheer size of the Tampa Catholic defense was simply too much for them to handle. TJ Harrell delivered a bone rattling hit on Berkley’s Chris Williams on the next drive that would result in a quick three and out punt. After a short punt return, senior Tampa Catholic quarterback Mitchell Norden, sprinted 33 yards for a touchdown adding to the lead. The Crusaders added a field goal before half which made the score 23-0.
Berkley Prep came out firing in the third quarter with a 12 play touchdown drive. Senior wide receiver Bubba Olivera had two key receptions on the drive, which was aided by a costly pass interference penalty, which negated an 80 yard TJ Harrell interception return. Momentum seemed to have shifted the Buccaneer’s way; yet, Harrell would quickly end all hope of a miraculous comeback by taking the Berkley Prep kickoff 68 yards and setting up a beautiful Michael Sarafianos field goal. The Crusaders would add one more touchdown on a stunning 22 yard pass from Norden to USF commit Zach Benjamin making the final score 33-7.
– Anthony Peace