TAMPA — The day before Tampa Catholic and Clearwater Central Catholic renewed their cross-bay rivalry, Crusaders first-year coach Mike Gregory installed a new play that had been a staple under previous Crusaders coaching regimes.
At the snap, the tight end, lined up to the left side of the formation, falls down. The quarterback takes the snap and rolls right while the tight end gets back up and flows left, away from the action.
If it’s run correctly, the quarterback should turn back across the field to find a wide-open tight end.
Facing third and goal from the CCC 7-yard line and trailing 10-7 Friday after the Marauders kicked a field goal on their overtime drive, Gregory decided to give the play a shot.
Tampa Catholic quarterback Kyle Ploucher ran right, pivoted and lofted a pass to uncovered tight end Trajan Herr in the left corner of the end zone to give the Crusaders a dramatic 13-10 overtime victory a snap a two-game losing streak to the Marauders.
“It was like a trick play,” Ploucher said. “It looks so pretty when it works.”
Trailing 7-0, Tampa Catholic (1-1) tied the game with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter when Ploucher threw a jump ball into the end zone for Justin Motlow, who outfought a defensive back to haul in the 17-yard touchdown.
CCC (1-1) had a couple of opportunities to regain the lead in the fourth quarter but couldn’t take advantage. Early in the fourth, the Marauders went for it on fourth and 3 from the Crusaders’ 36-yard line, but Blake Gomez was sacked by Tre Watson and Malik Barrow.
CCC got the ball back at its 1 with 6:15 to go and drove into Tampa Catholic territory. The Marauders’ Diquan Walker (21 carries, 108 yards) found running room off the left side but fumbled as he was tackled, and the Crusaders recovered with 2:12 on the clock.
A dead ball personal foul on CCC gave Tampa Catholic the ball at the Marauders’ 42. The Crusaders advanced the ball to the 17 with 29 seconds left, but a false start and a chop block pushed the ball to the 37. With time expiring in regulation, Tampa Catholic’s Michael Sarafianos attempted a-winning 54-yard field goal that had enough leg but was wide right.
CCC lost 2 yards on three overtime plays from the 10, but went back in front when Yanni Ramos was true with a 34-yard field goal.
Tampa Catholic gained 3 yards on its first two overtime plays before Herr’s game-winning catch.
“It felt like it took an eternity for that ball to get there,” Herr said.
CCC took an early 7-0 lead on Connor Dorris’ 3-yard plunge. That was set up by a 79-yard pass from Jeff Smith to C.J. Cotman. The Marauders, however, were undone by 125 penalty yards and just 101 yards of offense after halftime.