Tampa Catholic 24, Mulberry 14

TAMPA — For a fleeting moment, Hunter Joyer revisited the past. Then it was time to talk about the present … and future.

Joyer, a two-way junior performer for Tampa Catholic, made the defensive play of his life Friday night, single-handedly stopping a Mulberry fourth-quarter drive as the No. 3 ranked-Crusaders rallied for a 24-14 victory and fourth consecutive district title.

Tampa Catholic (7-0, 3-0) clinched the Class 2B, District 5 crown when Lake Highland Prep defeated Avon Park 23-19.

Mulberry (2-5, 1-2) appeared on its way to snapping a 14-all tie early in the fourth with a first-and-goal at the Tampa Catholic 10-yard line. After two plays netted 1 yard, Joyer forced and recovered a fumble by Mulberry quarterback Antonio Brown. The play energized his teammates, who drove 81 yards in nine plays to take the lead on Mike Paleveda's 21-yard field goal with 4:50 remaining. Jeremi Wilkes clinched the win by returning another fumble 40 yards for a touchdown 21/2 minutes later.

"I wasn't here last year (he transferred from Wesley Chapel)," said Joyer, who also scored a touchdown. "I had never won a district, been in the playoffs or had a winning record. So this means a lot to me."

Said Tampa Catholic coach Bob Henriquez: "I told the defensive guys that we needed to get aggressive and bring a couple blitzes (on that drive). I don't think they expected us to blitz in that situation. Our sideline was in disarray in the first half; we were more calm after that."

Tampa Catholic remains in position to become the first team in school history to go undefeated. It has two games left.

Tampa Catholic24
Mulberry14

Tampa Catholic 24, Mulberry 14 10/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 1:27am]

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