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Jesuit hits the ground running in the postseason

The Tigers score six rushing touchdowns to set up a rematch with Chamberlain.

TAMPA — Kiael Kelly had three rushing touchdowns and Ricky Parks added two scores as Jesuit beat Melbourne Eau Gallie, 45-9, in a Class 5A, Region 3 quarterfinal Friday night. Jesuit (9-2) had six rushing touchdowns in all and scored the final 38 points of the game.

Parks got the Tigers on the board late in the first period with an 8-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0. The score was set up after Eau Gallie muffed a punt and Jesuit recovered at the 13-yard line to set up a short field.

The Commodores (9-2), however, answered quickly with a 42-yard strike from Cade Ross to J.T. Campbell to make the score 7-6. Eau Gallie would add a 39-yard field goal early in the second quarter to make it 9-7.

Jesuit got another big special teams play when Junior Vandeross had a 52-yard punt return to set up Parks’ second touchdown and make it 14-0. The other big play on the short drive was a 29-yard pass from Kelly to Jaydn Girard on a second and long.

The Tigers defense tightened up considerably in the second half and kept Eau Gallie’s offense pinned on their side of the field.

“The defensive coaches were doing a little too much coaching in the first half so we’ll take the blame for that,” Jesuit coach Matt Thompson said. “We were yelling from the sidelines instead of letting the kids play. There were a couple adjustments made but it was mainly the fact that we stopped coaching from the sidelines.”

Parks continued pacing the Tigers’ strong rushing game in the second half and Kelly scored on three 1-yard quarterback sneaks to put the game out of reach at 38-9.

Jesuit’s special teams were solid all night. Kicker Cade Freeman had a 42-yard field goal and Jordan Young had a 45-yard punt return to set up a score.

The Tigers will host Chamberlain in the second round after the Chiefs upset No. 1 seed Rockledge 25-13. Jesuit won the first game, 24-13, at Chamberlain on Sept. 27.

“It’s tough to play a team twice in a season, but we’ve did it with Jefferson the past four years so we’re kind of used to it,” Thompson said. “But it’s going to be a good challenge. I know Chamberlain is going to be better than they were the first time we played them.”

Region football semifinals

All games 7:30 p.m. next Friday.

Class 2A, Region 3

• No. 3 Seffner Christian at No. 2 Northside Christian

• No. 4 Admiral Farragut at No. 1 Cambridge Christian

Class 3A, Region 3

• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 1 Berkeley Prep

Class 4A, Region 3

• No. 4 Clewiston at No. 1 Lakewood

• No. 3 Tampa Catholic at No. 2 Delray Beach American Heritage

Class 5A, Region 3

• No. 8 Chamberlain at No. 4 Jesuit

Class 5A, Region 2

• No. 4 Nature Coast at No. 1 Orlando Jones

Class 6A, Region 2

• No. 5 Clearwater at No. 1 Gaither

• No. 3 Lake Minneola at No. 2 Largo

Class 7A, Region 3

• No. 3 Manatee at No. 2 Mitchell

Class 7A, Region 2

• No. 5 Bloomingdale at No. 1 Armwood

• No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech at No. 2 Lakeland

Class 8A, Region 2

• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 1 Sarasota Riverview