ST. PETERSBURG — For Tampa Catholic coach Bob Henriquez, Friday night’s 48-0 win over St. Petersburg Catholic went according to script. For St. Petersburg Catholic’s Steve Dudley, it was like watching a bad movie.
The Crusaders (3-0) scored on their first three drives and outgained the Barons 412 yards to 70 en route to their first win in the four-team Class 3A-5 district. After scoring 86 points in its first two games, SPC (2-1) was held scoreless .
“For three weeks we’ve gotten off to slow starts,” Henriquez said. “We scripted that first drive and ran it to perfection. We moved the chains and had some effort plays. It was exactly what we were trying to do.”
The first drive for each team set the tone . Tampa Catholic got the ball first and marched 66 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown. The drive included two third-down conversions and ended with a 2-yard run by TJ Koontz.
St. Petersburg Catholic’s first drive gained only 6 yards and ended with a punt, one of eight in the game. That led to another long Tampa Catholic drive. This one took nine plays and ended with a 4-yard burst by Kenny Bryant, who finished with 19 carries for 100 yards.
After another three-and-out by the Barons, TPC’s third drive was much shorter. Crusaders quarterback Kyle Ploucher connected with Justin Motlow on a short pass, then Motlow weaved his way 69 yards for the third touchdown. Motlow had missed the entire week of practice with a groin injury.
Just to make things even more miserable for the Barons, Kendrick Mention ran back a punt 55 yards in the second quarter to make the score 27-0. It got to 31-0 at halftime when Ploucher hit Zach Benjamin on a 15-yard touchdown pass.
“We’re so young that we don’t know how to handle adversity,” Dudley said. “They jumped on us early and we didn’t respond. Guys started giving up. I was watching them give up.”
The Barons failed to get a first down in the first half. It wasn’t much better in the second.
Backup quarterback Mitchell Norden hit Ben Reed for a 25-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to make it 38-0. When Jude Akachuku ended the scoring with a 9-yard run, the running clock started.
“We prepared really well this week,” Ploucher said. “We thought we knew what we were doing and we executed it. The last couple weeks we haven’t started with a touchdown. This week, we wanted to make sure that we did.”