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Football: Berkeley Prep 21, Clearwater Central Catholic 14

The Buccaneers halt a five-game skid to the Marauders while upending CCC’s 23-game win streak.
Week 1 of high school football kicked off across Tampa Bay on Friday night. [Times]
Published Aug. 24

TAMPA — The last time Berkeley Prep finished with more points on the scoreboard than Clearwater Central Catholic, it was 2011 and current Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor was in his senior year for the Buccaneers.

Xavier Townsend was only 7 at the time.

“I think I was in second or third grade then,” he said.

Townsend, a sophomore, scored a pair of touchdowns — including the winner with 1:42 remaining — as Berkeley Prep upset Class 3A, No. 2-ranked CCC 21-14 Friday in the season opener for both teams.

The Buccaneers, who rallied from deficits of 7-0 and 14-7, had lost their previous five meetings to the Marauders by an average score of 35-22. Berkeley Prep’s last win against CCC was a 21-0 shutout.

MORE FOOTBALL: Palmetto 27, Pinellas Park 7

Berkeley Prep also ended the longest win streak in Tampa Bay. CCC had won 23 straight regular-season games dating to 2016.

Townsend’s decisive 7-yard scoring run snapped a 14-all tie and capped a 63-yard, seven-play drive. Two pass plays by quarterback Gavin Rupp were instrumental: a 15-yarder to Connor Augusta, and a 35-yarder to Townsend.

Berkeley Prep sealed the win when RJ Garcia intercepted a Zach Burrill pass in Buccaneers territory on the next-to-last play of the game.

“(Berkeley Prep) is a well-coached football team,” CCC coach Chris Harvey said. “The four years that I’ve been here, this game is always a heck of a way to start the season. Luckily, those other three times, we came out ahead. This year, they had our number.

”Our guys played hard. I don’t know if I put them in a good enough position to have success, and that’s something I have to reevaluate for myself."

Berkeley Prep dominated in total offensive yardage (307-194) and first downs (15-9).

Townsend led the Buccaneers with 84 yards rushing on 20 attempts and six pass receptions totaling 89 yards.

MORE FOOTBALL: St. Petersburg Catholic 35, Carrollwood Day 14

Rupp, who threw two interceptions (by Tyler Barnett and Brad Seale) in Marauder territory before intermission, had a perfect second half (6-of-6, 120 yards). He finished with 172 yards passing on a 10-of-14 night.

The teams traded 70-yard, eight-play scoring drives in a 7-all first half with CCC’s Jordan Niles and the Buccaneers’ Travis Bates each finding the end zone on 23-yard runs.

Niles, who rushed for 140 yards on 17 carries, gave the Marauders a 14-7 lead 25 seconds into the second half when he picked up an errant center snap and scooted 66 yards for a touchdown.

Townsend tied the score on the ensuing possession with a 30-yard TD grab from Rupp, culminating a 70-yard, 12-play drive that consumed 7-1/2 minutes.

A potential CCC scoring opportunity on the ensuing series was halted by James Kavouklis, who recovered a Niles fumble at the Berkeley Prep 33.

“It was a great team win,” Townsend said. “Everybody played a part from all roles. I couldn’t have done without my line, wide receivers, my quarterback. The D-line and defense made a great stand every time they were on the field.”


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