TARPON SPRINGS — Every yard counted in the Tampa Catholic-Tarpon Springs matchup Friday as each defense flew around making plays and made it tough for the other's offense.
The Spongers were looking good early, holding a 12-0 lead at halftime. However, the Crusaders defense not only held Tarpon Springs under 100 yards in the second half, but it was able to score the team's first touchdown of the game.
Then, with about eight minutes remaining, TC scored its only offensive touchdown, which is what it needed for a 13-12 victory.
Key drive: The Tampa Catholic air attack was not flying well all night, but it only took one big play to change the game. After Jalen Bussey strung together back-to-back 10-yard runs, the Crusaders (1-0) decided it was time for a shot down the field. Quarterback Charlie Dean sold the play action, stepped back to pass and found a wide open Aamani Felix on a skinny post. The speedy receiver caught the ball and raced into the end zone to help the Crusaders win their season opener.
Stars of the game: Bussey led the Crusaders in total offense with 70 rushing yards on 10 carries. Deangelo Taylor recorded Tampa Catholic's first score on a 30-yard fumble return. For Tarpon Springs (1-1), quarterback Justin Parham had a big first half with 82 rushing yards and a touchdown, but an awkward tackle knocked him out of the game in the beginning of the second half.
Final word: "These guys showed intestinal fortitude tonight. They never gave up, they stayed together, kept their belief, fought their tails off and overcame adversity. Real proud of them." — Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory