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Berkeley Prep spreads around the scores

The Bucs next face Lakeland Christian in the Class 3A region finals.
Berkeley Prep beat Frostproof 35-6 in a Class 3A region semifinal on Friday night.
Berkeley Prep beat Frostproof 35-6 in a Class 3A region semifinal on Friday night. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Nov. 21, 2020

TAMPA — Senior Gavin Rupp threw for three touchdowns, and Berkeley Prep added scores on defense and special teams in a 35-6 rout of Frostproof (4-1) in the Class 3A region semifinals Friday night. The victory sets a rematch in the region final with Lakeland Christian, whom the Bucs defeated 34-28 on Oct. 23.

Berkeley (6-1) started the scoring early in the first quarter when TJ Bullard thwarted a promising Frostproof drive by tipping a pass to himself and returning it 77 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

On the Bucs’ next possession, Rupp connected with 6-foot-8 junior tight end CJ Hawkins from 19 yards to put Berkeley up 14-0.

“That was a big play early,” Berkeley coach Dominick Ciao said. “We get the batted-ball interception, and our guy (Bullard) went the distance and really changed the momentum. Then we get the three and out and score.”

In the second quarter, strong running by juniors Xavier Townsend (118 all-purpose yards) and Travis Bates (six carries, 84 yards) set Berkeley up at the Frostproof 3-yard line. Rupp then found senior RJ Garcia for a short touchdown and a 21-0 lead.

The Bucs defense forced a punt on the next possession, and 6-foot-6 sophomore Keon Keeley blocked it. It was recovered by Henry Ferrelli for a touchdown and a 28-0 lead midway through the quarter.

Later in the quarter, Rupp (6-for-10, 111 yards) connected with Townsend from 63 yards to put Berkeley up 35-0 going into the halftime and forcing a running clock for the second half.

The Bucs defense was solid all night, limiting Frostproof’s bruising running back duo of Willie Knighten and Chris Gordon to 76 yards on 20 carries. Keeley, Xavier Perkins and Titus Bullard contributed sacks.

“A lot of guys made big plays for us,” Ciao said. “You love to see that with everything on the line. It’s just a blessing to come out and play with all the things going on, and we are fortunate to get another 48 minutes.”