TAMPA — Boca Ciega, which typically sticks with the running game, threw the deep ball and showed a balanced attack to keep Tampa Catholic staggered as the Pirates won.
"Sometimes the defense puts you in a position where you have to put it in the air," first-year Boca Ciega coach Antez Brinson said. "They started to stack the box, so we had to air it out."
Quarterback Bobby Runcie hit DiQuez Henderson for an 81-yard touchdown and Elijah McClendon for a 29-yard strike to put the Pirates up 20-0 early. The Pirates forced a safety in the third quarter to take a 22-13 lead.
The Crusaders fought back, forcing a fumble and blocking punts two in the second half. Jordan Rich-Rogers punched it in from 2 yards to cut TC's deficit to 22-20.
Runcie put the game away with a 77-yard touchdown pitch-and-catch to Jaylaan Winbush in the fourth quarter.
"We had two blown coverage's and they made us pay for them," Tampa Catholic coach Bob Henriquez said. "(Boca Ciega's) a talented football team and it's a really good test for us."
Basil Spyridakos, Times Correspondent