TAMPA — The final score might have indicated otherwise — as did the fact that Clearwater Central Catholic left Tampa Catholic on Friday night under a running clock — but Marauders coach Mike Jalazo thought his team was just a few plays away.
The Marauders' 49-13 loss to rival Tampa Catholic, a team CCC had beaten the past two seasons, snowballed quickly. The Crusaders scored the first 42 points, and led 28-0 at halftime. And the Marauders had no answer for TC's big play running game, which tallied 252 yards.
"We had to play a great game," Jalazo said. "I felt defensively we were about a play away. We'd have a couple good plays and then we'd give one up. But I think our kids came out and fought hard in the second half. They're a great football team."
Less than six minutes into the game, CCC was already trailing by two scores.
After Christian Green's 27-yard touchdown run, the Marauders were caught sleeping on the ensuing kickoff as TC recovered it just before it bounced out of bounds. Two plays later, the Crusaders went up 14-0. Less than one minute into the second quarter, it was already 21-0.
"If we could have put a drive together or we could get a stop and get a score and get another score, I didn't think we couldn't come back," Jalazo said.
"The opening kickoff going the way it did. We had an interception. Unfortunately, at that point we were kind of out of gas, but I think we fought hard.
"We actually thought our plan was a pretty good one," he added. "If you watch this game and see if we made a tackle here or a tackle there it's a ball game. They made plays."
Jalazo used three quarterbacks, including third-string freshman Colby Robinson, who ran for a game-high 37 yards and threw a touchdown as time expired against the TC second-team defense.
But earlier in the game, CCC threw two interceptions, one just before the half and another that was returned 35 yards for a touchdown.
"It was our most complete performance," Tampa Catholic coach Bob Henriquez said. "With the weapons we have on offense and if we keep getting better on defense and people don't get caught up in the stats, we can be awfully dangerous."