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PALM HARBOR — For three weeks, the Palm Harbor University Hurricanes had done what they expected of themselves.
As they defeated weak opponent after weak opponent, their confidence grew to the point where they considered Friday night’s game against Clearwater Central Catholic their biggest home game in years.
Not only was it homecoming, but Palm Harbor University also had its first televised home game. But the Hurricanes showed the Marauders still have the edge in few important categories: speed and big-game experience.
Led by a dominating defensive performance, CCC rolled to its third straight shutout with a 30-0 victory.
“CCC just beat our butts,” Hurricanes coach Matt LePain said. “We’re not used to the lights and the big stage.”
PHU’s defense, so strong in allowing just six points (two field goals) in its first three games, allowed Marauders quarterback Blake Gomez to complete 8 of 9 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
And the Hurricanes’ offense sputtered the entire game, the first time this season it has been unable to move the ball.
Of course, that had a lot to do with the talent on the other side. Since giving up 36 points to East Lake in a season-opening loss, CCC (3-1) has shut out Lakeland Christian, Hudson and PHU.
“When we play the way we’re capable of playing and run to the football and tackle, we can be pretty good,” Marauders coach John Davis said. “The challenge for us was could we stop someone who could run right at us, which PHU does well. And we did that.”
CCC’s defense allowed just 75 yards of offense in the first half and came up with the play that turned out to be the turning point. The Hurricanes (3-1) were pinned in their own territory on their second possession when quarterback Tyler Kaminski was sacked by Marauders lineman Jordan Adderly, who caused a fumble teammate Ethan Thompson recovered at the 9-yard line.
CCC turned that turnover into points as Diquan Walker scored on a 4-yard run in the first quarter. The Marauders added to their lead in the second on Matt Fosnacht’s 32-yard field goal and on a 28-yard pass from Gomez to Trey Larry to make it 17-0 at the half.
Larry scored again on a 50-yard run in the third quarter. CCC rounded out the scoring on backup quarterback Jeff Smith’s 8-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Marauders lineman Brett Rein sustained a broken leg in the final two minutes.