TAMPA — The scoreboard at Jesuit's Alumni Field showed that the Tigers' kickoff classic game Friday night with Countryside ended in a tie, but new Jesuit coach James Harrell saw it as a victory.
Granted, these preseason games don't go into the win-loss column, and the Tigers still have a lot to iron out before hosting Kathleen next Friday, but Harrell could draw a lot from the 7-7 tie.
"It's a confidence boost when you go up against a 5A team and play the way we did tonight," Harrell said.
Offensively, the Tigers racked up 360 yards of total offense but committed four turnovers — two interceptions, a fumble and a turnover on downs. Three of those turnovers came inside Countryside territory.
New Countryside starting quarterback Gray Crow was 11-of-22 for 82 yards, but the Cougars scored their only touchdown on the ground, taking the second-half kickoff 80 yards on seven plays (all rushing) in 3:20 to take a 7-0 lead on Terry Johnson's 35-yard run.
"The last time we took the football field, we were embarrassed (in a 29-10 loss to St. Petersburg)," Cougars coach Jared Davis said. "This was a chance for us to show that's not who we are going to be, and that we will still be a force to be reckoned with,'' though he said his team remains young.
Jesuit ran for 186 yards, but the Tigers set up their only touchdown on Patton Chillura's 53-yard pass to Aaron Paulson down the sideline. Four plays later Javarius Crittenden scored from 4 yards out to tie the game with 4:03 remaining.
Countryside cornerback Alex Dixon, still playing in the fourth quarter, left with what appeared to be a left knee injury.