TAMPA — Tampa Catholic’s homecoming matchup against Lakeland Christian was supposed to be a tightly-contested battle between a pair of contenders for the Class 3A, District 4 championship.
Instead, the game evolved into a 48-minute title coronation for the Crusaders.
After starting inauspiciously with an interception on its opening drive, Tampa Catholic scored a touchdown on six of its next seven possessions in a 41-0 thumping of the Vikings.
Following the game, Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory unveiled a Crusaders’ 2013 district championship T-shirt given to him by one of his assistant coaches. The way the Crusaders (7-1, 4-0) roughed up the Vikings (6-2, 2-2), Gregory could have passed them out before the game even started.
“Our goal all year was to win a district championship,” Gregory said. “Once we knew our defense was going to step up, our offense just said, ‘Let’s join in on the fun a little bit.’ We played probably our best game offensively.”
T.J. Harrell (three carries, 72 yards) weaved his way through the Lakeland Christian defense for a 26-yard touchdown on the Crusaders’ second drive for the opening score. Tampa Catholic’s Willie Conley intercepted Vikings quarterback Christian Alexander at the 46, and one play later, Tampa Catholic quarterback Kyle Ploucher hit Justin Motlow on a corner-post route for a 46-yard touchdown connection and 14-0 lead.
“Last week we took Berkeley Prep lightly,” said Ploucher, who was 8-for-14 for 181 yards and two touchdowns. “We didn’t want that to happen again. We came out and kept firing and firing and firing.”
Motlow finished with five catches for 134 yards.
The entire fourth quarter was played with a running clock.