Homecoming just didn't feel right for Tampa Catholic Monday night _ and boy did it show during a 20-12 loss to Dixie Hollins.
The Crusaders bumbled, fumbled and were intercepted more times than TC coach Bob Henriquez cared to remember.
"I think having Friday's game postponed (because of foul weather) threw us out of rhythm," Henriquez said. "On Saturday there was the homecoming dance and the kids were thinking about all these other things, and then they had to come back and try to play the homecoming game on Monday night. It was strange."
Tampa Catholic (4-3) appeared out of synch on Dixie's opening drive as the Rebels marched 52 yards in seven plays, the last a 21-yard touchdown run by Eric Jelks.
TC countered a few minutes later when Clint Boger returned an interception 26 yards to Dixie's 10-yard line.
"And then, wouldn't you know it, we throw an interception," said an exasperated Henriquez.
Tampa Catholic appeared to get back on track midway through the second quarter as quarterback Allen Suber directed a nine-play, 85-yard touchdown drive.
The game remained 7-6 (TC's extra point was blocked) well into the third quarter before Dixie ripped off two crucial touchdown plays: a 26-yard run by Jelks and a 48-yard pass from Joe Deese to Robert Dorsey.
The touchdowns basically gave Dixie (6-2) a sense of safety, except maybe for a slight scare on a late 60-yard touchdown pass from Suber to Aaron Jones.
"You know we've gone to the playoffs five years in a row, but we're not going this year," Dixie coach Todd Wilson said. "So we could have laid down and just given up for this game. But we didn't.
"We caused a lot of (Tampa Catholic's) mistakes tonight by playing hard. I'm proud of these guys."
Tampa Catholic must now regroup for a district game against Mulberry Friday night.
St. Petersburg wins 35-0
CLEARWATER _ Facing the prospect of playing two games in five days, St. Petersburg coach Dusty Boylson just wanted to survive Monday night's non-district game against Countryside. As it turned out, Boylson had little to worry about.
The Green Devils racked up 186 rushing yards and added 128 passing yards in a 35-0 shutout over the Cougars. Nine different runners carried the ball for St. Petersburg (6-2). Countryside (2-6) had only 81 yards of offense.
"This Monday night stuff is for the birds," Boylson said. "We wanted to spread things out and not get anybody hurt. We've got a district game (against Gibbs) coming up. Even though we're in the playoffs, it's still a big game."
The Green Devils' running game was established on the first drive. St. Petersburg drove 85 yards on 10 plays, which took up more than half of the first quarter, in scoring the game's first touchdown. The drive ended when quarterback Charles Billue hit Dontreal Butler on a 16-yard pass.
An 80-yard drive followed, capped by DeNeal Brown's 18-yard run on the first play of the second quarter.
After faltering for the rest of the half, St. Petersburg really got going in the second half. Rodney Myrick carried tacklers nine yards to make it 21-0 on the first drive of the third quarter.
And after a fumbled punt by Countryside, Toby Jackson scored from 10 yards at the end of the third to make it 27-0.
Jackson added a 5-yarder to end the scoring.
Countryside never threatened the end zone. The Cougars deepest penetration was on their first drive, when Geoff Peattie's 51-yard field goal fell five yards short.
"We tried to use all our backs tonight," Boylson said. "We've got some guys nicked up and with a short week it doesn't allow much time to heal."
_ RODNEY PAGE
Dunedin downs Lakewood
DUNEDIN _ Lakewood and Dunedin have chosen opposite passages as their seasons wind down without a playoff berth in sight.
Having both been eliminated from the postseason with district losses last week, the Spartans and Falcons met in a seemingly meaningless non-district game Monday night.
Dunedin, however, is trying to end a streak of five straight losing seasons. After Monday's 20-13 win, the Falcons are staring at a success story.
"We can still go 7-3, the best Dunedin has done in the '90s," senior tri-captain Judd Angelillis said.
Lakewood, which started the season with high expectations, played with a sophomore quarterback _ their third signal-caller of the year _ in the loss, in front of about 150 fans.
"Apparently, (Dunedin) wanted it more than we did," Lakewood coach Brian Bruch said. "We probably didn't block a guy all game."
Dunedin center Tim McClintic excelled at blocking and paved the way for a 110-yard effort from Jason Butler. The senior running back gave the Falcons (5-3) some breathing room when he went 73 yards on third and long to open up a 20-7 lead.
"The offensive line gave him his six inches of daylight," McClintic said.
That's all Butler needed.
"I had to suck it up and put a dagger in their hearts," Butler said.
The Dunedin weapons remained sheathed until 17 seconds before halftime, when quarterback Zach Cushing hit Angelillis for a 13-yard touchdown pass. The Falcons ended an opening half that included a combined eight punts, four turnovers and a missed field goal to take a 7-0 halftime lead.
"I was trying to figure out what (the Spartans) were doing, to be quite honest," Donohoe said.
Lakewood (3-5) got two touchdowns from Marcus Marion, but the speedy backs struggled with their footing on a wet Dunedin Memorial Stadium field as the sweep tandem of Rashad Moulton and Antez Brinson combined to equal Butler's ground yards without a score.
_ ERIC VICIAN