CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic stormed out to a 14-0 halftime lead but had to hold off a mad rally from Wiregrass Ranch to hang on for a 21-19 win in a kickoff classic Friday.
Key plays: Johnny Newton had the longest play of the game with a 63-yard run in the second quarter to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Deandre Fitzhenley to give the Marauders a 14-0 lead that they would carry into the half.
Key drive: CCC took its biggest lead of the game on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that proved the difference in the game. Quarterback Rory Hicks was 5-for-6 for 40 yards on the drive as the Mauraders converted two fourth downs before Newton scored on a short touchdown to make the score 21-6 in the third quarter.
Stars of the game: Newton had 122 yards and a touchdown with the bulk of his work coming in the first half. … Hicks was 12-of-16 for 139 yards. … Jerjuan Newton had five catches for 62 yards for CCC. … Wiregrass Ranch quarterback Grant Sessums bounced back from an 0-for-5 first half to throw for 228 yards and three touchdowns. … Jordan Miner had three catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. … A.J. Brown had four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. … The biggest play came from CCC linebacker George Nistazos who sacked Sessums on a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the score with 28 seconds left.
Final word I: "I liked the way we came out early and I thought we did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. As a coach I've got to do a better job of making sure we use more of our players so the guys don't wear down late in the game like they did tonight." — CCC coach Chris Harvey
Final word II: "I don't know what happened to us in the first half. The game is four quarters and we didn't wake up until the second half. We might have to look at how we warmed up before the game. But the kids bounced back and showed a ton of fight against a good team. We have a lot of things to work on but we showed a lot of good things in the second half." — Wiregrass Ranch coach Mark Kantor