Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Football: Tampa Catholic 45, Melbourne Central Catholic 10

MELBOURNE — Tampa Catholic may have been knocked off as the No. 1 team in Class 3A late in the season, but the Crusaders went about restaking their claim to the top spot Friday night.

T.J. Harrell scored three touchdowns and quarterback Kyle Ploucher fired two of his three scoring passes to receiver Justin Motlow as the Crusaders raced out to a commanding early lead, then cruised to a 45-10 win over Melbourne Central Catholic in a Class 3A region final.

"Our defense has been the backbone of our team, but the offense really showed up tonight. That's really been the doubt on our team," said Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory.

"I told the offense they needed to make a statement, and they did."

All four first-half touchdowns for Tampa Catholic (10-2) came from Harrell and Motlow as the visitors blitzed Melbourne Central Catholic (11-1) and led 31-3 at the break.

Harrell's 10-yard scoring run at 8:57 was set up by a fumble recovery by Jacob Rios. After Michael Sarafianos' 38-yard field goal, Harrell added a second rushing tally less than three minutes into the second quarter for a 17-3 advantage.

"The whole team came together for this one. The offensive line and defensive lines really stepped up," said Harrell, who added a third touchdown in the second half.

"We talked all week about getting physical. We took it personally."

After the Crusaders forced a turnover on downs in the red zone, Ploucher found Motlow down the visitors' sideline two plays later with a perfect pass that resulted in a 75-yard score. He struck again to Motlow with 40 seconds left in the half with a 20-yard pass over the middle.

"My O-line deserves all the credit. I felt like I was at home back there. No one came near me every play. I felt completely comfortable," said Ploucher, who finished 11 of 15 for 202 yards and three scores.

MCC cut it to 31-10 on a touchdown pass in the third quarter, but Trajan Herr caught a 12-yard touchdown and Harrell returned an interception 36 yards for a score just over a minute later in the final quarter for the finishing touch.

MCC entered the game averaging more than 45 points per game, but junior quarterback Brandon Ziarno, who tossed just four interceptions during the regular season, was picked off four times by a Crusaders' defense that created five turnovers.

Harrell, Devin Barrett, Bentlee Sanders and Tre Watson all recorded picks for the Crusaders, who will host Jacksonville Trinity Christian next.

Football: Tampa Catholic 45, Melbourne Central Catholic 10 11/23/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 23, 2013 12:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rick and Tom podcast: Bucs' Gerald McCoy frustrated with disrespectful fans

    Bucs

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss Gerald McCoy's latest comments on disrespectful fans who attack his teammates, Donald Trump, protests by DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, and his respect for the …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) warms up before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  2. NFL owners' unity with players might be short-lived

    Bucs

    The image was striking — several owners of NFL teams locking arms with their players on the sidelines Sunday, and the Cowboys' Jerry Jones on Monday night, in a dramatic statement of defiance to a president who ridiculed their sport and condemned players for refusing to stand during the national anthem as a …

    Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, currently without a team, has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for not standing during the national anthem. [Associated Press]
  3. Anthem protest, the latest: Jerry Jones joins Cowboys on field in show of solidarity

    Bucs

    As President Donald Trump continued tweeting Monday about his displeasure with NFL players for staging demonstrations during the national anthem, the Cowboys took a knee on the field just before the anthem was performed on Monday Night Football. Dallas players were joined by owner Jerry Jones, and they quickly …

    Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, center, joins the team in taking a knee before the national anthem Monday night. They stood and linked arms for the anthem.
  4. Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says players who kneel have team's support

    Sports

    TAMPA — Receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson were the only Bucs players kneeling during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Vikings, but DT Gerald McCoy said the team supports their protest "100 percent."

    Bucs tight end Cameron Brate pulls in a touchdown catch as Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo (34) hits him in the back of the head.
  5. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)