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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.
The region quarterfinals started Friday night for teams around Tampa Bay. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Nov. 9

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


  1. Tre'von Riggins, a University of Miami commit, has been a force for the Lakewood defense since he transferred from IMG Academy. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The “Duke Energy Boys” have helped drive an unbeaten season, not giving up a touchdown in seven games.
  2. Mitchell quarterback Ezra Brennan has already surpassed 2,000 yards passing this season. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    The learning curve isn’t too steep for the first-year Mustangs starter, whose unflappable nature can be traced to the other sport he excels in — baseball.
  3. Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor of Plant High makes a move around Northwestern defensive lineman Joe Gaziano on Nov. 2  in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana won 34-3. DOUG MCSCHOOLER  |  AP
    Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota have become feel-good stories in college football this season, with coaches and players who have roots locally.
  4. Clearwater Central Catholic's Zac Elam says that one of the offensive line's strengths is that "we’re really close as a group." DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    While often inconspicuous, the Marauders’ offensive line knows its value this season.
  5. Nature Coast's Dedric Hall does a little bit of everything for the Sharks, which is why they're in the second round of the playoffs. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The junior can burn you in the running game. He’s nifty in the passing game. And if you’re not careful, he’ll pick off your quarterback, too.
  6. Admiral Farragut's Martel Mott takes off after intercepting a pass by Cambridge Christian's Titan Williamson during the teams' Sept. 13 regular-season matchup. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    One thing is certain in the playoffs under the new format: rematches from the regular season.
  7. Not only is Riverview's Alyssa Hendrix a two-times state champ in cross country, but her latest title follows two earlier this year in state track. Hendrix, pictured here from the spring, won the 3,200- and 1,600-meter titles in May. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The final tally: Two individual champs, three team champs and a host of individual medalists.
  8. Clearwater Central Catholic’s Jordan Niles, right, hugs Calvary Christian’s Richie Ilarraza after the Marauders’ playoff win. Niles is a former Calvary player. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Sunday Morning QB: Clearwater Central Catholic, Steinbrenner and Chamberlain are just a few of the standouts in the region quarterfinals.
  9. Plant senior Birdie Frierson, here in a match earlier this postseason, says on Saturday the Panthers "were just a little bit off. The serves were just a little bit off. The sets were just a little bit off. Nothing felt like ‘This is it. This is our point.’ It was that kind of day.” SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Both Tampa teams sustain road losses in the state semifinals.
  10. The region quarterfinals started Friday night for teams around Tampa Bay. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Packers, missing a few playmakers while a few more take their lumps Friday, shut out Countryside.