TAMPA — A few hundred fans assembled Friday evening at Newman Stadium anticipating an intense Class A, District 6 throwdown. They got a throwback instead.
Behind dazzling junior Nelson Agholor, Berkeley Prep annihilated Clearwater Central Catholic the old-fashioned way: brute-force dominance at the line of scrimmage, textbook lead blocking and timely play-action passing.
Had it not been for a running fourth-quarter clock and Berkeley (3-1, 1-0) mercifully emptying its bench, the 37-7 final score might have been worse. CCC (3-1, 1-1) likely has to win at No. 1-ranked Fort Meade on Nov. 5 for a shot at a postseason berth.
“It’s been a long time since I had my rear end kicked like that,” Marauders coach John Davis said. “They’re very sound and very well-coached and they just physically beat us on both sides of the ball, outcoached us.”
The prime beneficiary of the Bucs’ up-front physicality: Agholor, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound Division I-A prospect with a handful of major college offers.
Before exiting in the third quarter, Agholor ran for 178 yards and three TDs on 20 carries. He also picked off a high Nick Newton pass near midfield and returned it to the CCC 1, then caught a high Destin Nichols pass in the corner of the end zone three plays later.
“Nelson was tremendous,” Bucs coach Dominick Ciao said. “He got to the line of scrimmage untouched a couple of times and took it from there. Great job up front by our linemen; our fullback (primarily George Peek and George Pennington) did a great job of lead blocking.”
Agholor essentially set the tone for the night by accounting for all 73 yards on the game’s opening drive. Seven of the plays were Agholor runs, ending with a 5-yard touchdown.
His dash off right tackle for a 60-yard score in the second quarter gave the hosts a 28-0 lead. With Agholor virtually unstoppable, Nichols used the play-action to near perfection, finishing 6-for-7 for 110 yards.
“Everything I do is because of (the offensive line) in the rushing game,” Agholor said. “I mean, I’m not a big back. I don’t take that many hits because of my line protecting me so well.”
Stymied by minimal rushing lanes and at least five dropped passes, CCC managed only 102 yards and four first downs through the first three quarters.
By the time Michael Stevenson scored from 4 yards to cap a 10-play, 95-yard drive with 3:37 to go, most of Berkeley’s starters were out.
“I can’t say even if we catch those (dropped) footballs that it would’ve been a different game,” Davis said. “I can sit here and give you all kinds of excuses but I tell my kids never to make excuses. We just got beat.”