TAMPA — Jesuit, and especially senior Malik Davis, is off and running in 2016.
Davis scorched Lakewood Ranch for 195 rushing yards on 18 carries and scored four touchdowns, all of which came in the first half, to lead the Tigers to a 39-3 season opening win.
The Tigers outrushed the Mustangs 277-13.
"(Davis) will be 200 (yards) per game," Jesuit coach Matt Thompson said. "That's what he's going to give us. Hopefully we'll keep him healthy and we'll be all right."
The Tigers started slowly but soon figured things out. After a Daniel Boon interception on the third play of the first drive, Lakewood Ranch had the ball on the Jesuit 32. But the Mustangs fumbled the ball back on the 35-yard line. Three plays later, Davis broke a 65-yard touchdown run, his second run of the game.
"I had my pulling guard come out and block and that just opened wide," Davis said.
The Mustangs kicked a 33-yard field goal midway through the first quarter to close to 7-3. But it didn't stay close for long.
Two possessions later, Jesuit put together an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended on a 3-yard run by Davis. Then came a 37-yard touchdown by Davis to make the score 21-3. Late in the second quarter, Matthew Pittman broke a 12-yard run to make it 27-3. The extra point failed.
Then with 43 seconds left in the half, Davis scored from 16 yards out to make it 33-3. The two-point conversion failed. Davis had 191 rushing yards in the first half. Lakewood Ranch had minus-2 yards rushing and 8 total yards in the first half.
In the second half, Davis played only on the first series. He had one run for 4 yards on a drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal by Cam Bauman. Lakewood Ranch fumbled on its first possession of the second half. The Tigers turned that into a 27-yard field goal by Bauman to make it 39-3. That forced a running clock with 4:24 to go in the third quarter.
From there, the Tigers played mostly backups.
"It's a great start," Davis said. "We've worked hard all summer and we expected this. I haven't played awhile, except in the spring and I didn't play much then. I was very anxious to get on the field."
While the Tigers recorded an emphatic opening win, Thompson was more concerned with his team's nine penalties and two turnovers.
"We started slowly and could've played better," Thompson said. "We didn't have the best week and it kind of showed. We could've done a whole lot better than we did."