CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic's part-time quarterback Jeff Smith took a big step to becoming the full time QB as he rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Marauders' 38-14 victory over Ocala Trinity Catholic.
Smith also completed 5 of 7 passes for 104 yards.
"Jeff is a great young player and he's so dynamic in the open field there's always the chance of something good happening when the ball is in his hands," coach John Davis said. "We saw at halftime that he had the hot hand and we tried to get him more possessions in the second half."
On Smith's three possessions in the first half, he led CCC to an early 10-0 lead and put the Mauraders in position for another score but Yanni Ramos' 38-yard field goal was wide left.
Trinity Catholic, ranked third in Class 3A, made a late surge in the first half to take a 14-10 into the break.
Quarterback Reid Carlton connected with Rudi Outar for a 35-yard touchdown. The Celtics recovered an onside kick and another Carlton-to-Outar connection gave them first-and-goal at the 6. However Carlton threw an interception to Kyle Brittain at the 3.
Trinity Catholic eventually took the lead on a short touchdown run by Johnnie Taylor with a minute left in the first half.
"We knew Trinity Catholic was going play hard," Davis said. "And their defense was eating us up on the inside in that first half."
In the second half, Smith continued his playmaking in the spread offense and the Mauraders defense stiffened.
Smith completed a 61-yard pass to J.T. Steele to set up a short touchdown run by Diquan Walker to give CCC a 17-14 lead. He then added his second touchdown run of the game, a 12-yarder, to extend the lead to 24-14.
Blake Gomez split time with Smith at quarterback and had a 34-yard pass to John Brunner to set up Davis' touchdown.
"Even though Smith had the hot hand I thought Blake did some good things in there," Davis added. "We have a lot of weapons and we like to use them all."
Eric Davis had two fourth-quarter touchdowns to put the game out of reach. Brittain had two interceptions while Walker and Demetri Royer also had interceptions.
"I thought the defense played a terrific game," Davis said.