Football: Jesuit 35, Steinbrenner 10

Published September 8 2018
Updated September 8 2018

TAMPA — On Friday night, Jesuit proved it has three reliable phases to lean on this season at quarterback, running back and all-around defense.

The Tigers upended visiting Steinbrenner 35-10 in their home opener.

Sophomore quarterback Kiael Kelly tossed 185 yards and three touchdowns while the Jesuit running backs combined for 239 yards and two scores.

Kelly helped the Tigers get on the board early.

Taking advantage of a drive that started at the Steinbrenner 46-yard line, Kelly took a quarterback sneak 1 yard to give Jesuit first and goal.

Sophomore running back Ricky Parks scored from 3 yards out seconds later.

"We knew coming in that we had to pound the ball on offense and set the tone early," Kelly said. "Getting that score on the first drive was critical.

Steinbrenner (1-2) earned its first points of the game, a 47-yard field goal from junior Trevor Haire at the 11:06 mark of the second quarter.

Following that, Kelly and Jesuit really discovered its groove before the half.

Not even two minutes after, the Tigers (2-0) moved ahead 14-3 as Kelly found freshman wide receiver Junior Vandeross wide open for a 46-yard touchdown over the top.

Kelly then threw his second touchdown of the opening half as he found Hodges one-on-one deep downfield on a 20-yard strike with less than 50 seconds left.

"It definitely felt great. I'm glad our line protected very well and I had time to see the open man," said Kelly of the touchdown pass to Hodges. "All of that goes to the offensive line."

Midway through the third quarter, junior tight end Jonathon Odom create space down the middle of the field for a 25-yard hookup with Kelly. That put Jesuit ahead 28-3.

Odom combined for 54 yards and a touchdown before leaving late with a cramp in his leg.

Senior running back Matthew Pittman powered in for a 3-yard score on the ground to open the fourth quarter as Jesuit went ahead 35-3.

Steinbrenner added its lone touchdown of the night on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Haden Carlson to Aidan Bitter with eight minutes left.

The Tigers generated two interceptions in the closing moments. The first came from senior defensive back Zach Meurer on a tip from Vandeross. Then Vandeross hauled his own pick on the final play of the game, a hail Mary from the Warriors.

Senior defensive back Jaden Pask and sophomore linebacker Emy Okeke each had one sack. Senior captains Dane Belton and Christian Beatty combined for 11 tackles.

"That is one of our main goals of every week to have an intensity and a high level on defense," Belton said. "We have to keep grinding, go full speed in practice and fly to the ball so it translates to game days."

For Steinbrenner, senior linebacker Logan Kilburn led his side with nine tackles and two sacks.

Up next: Jesuit hosts district rival Jefferson while Steinbrenner welcomes Sarasota Riverview to town.