Friday, May 25, 2018
Sports

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.

Comments
Calvary Christian’s record win streak ends in state final

Calvary Christian’s record win streak ends in state final

FORT MYERS — One of the most impressive streaks in high school baseball came to an end early Friday morning.Calvary Christian lost the Class 4A state championship 5-1 to Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian at Hammond Stadium in a game that ended ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays weren't kidding about being serious that starting relievers gives them the best chance to win.So much so, they plan to do so again this weekend against the Orioles — in all three games. The plan is for Sergio Rom...
Updated: 6 hours ago
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechki...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and don’t panic

Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and don’t panic

TAMPA — Don't change a thing.Don't blow it up. Don't fire anyone. Don't overreact.Thursday was not an easy day in Lightning Land. It was the day after the end of a season that ended much too soon. It was a day when bags were packed, questions w...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

TAMPA — Hours before the puck dropped at Amalie Arena for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, the ice crew boss talked about putting off any sign of the end for as long as possible."We don’t want to see the front-end loaders," says Tom Miracle, ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

TAMPA — Not surprisingly, several Lightning players went through the playoffs with what general manager Steve Yzerman called "significant injuries."He would not elaborate Thursday on who they were, though he said that information will be made p...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Updated: 10 hours ago