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Jesuit in control from the start against Hillsborough

The nationally-ranked Tigers open strong and keep the Terriers out of the end zone until the final quarter.
Jesuit, ranked No. 17 in both the MaxPreps and USA Today national polls, top district foe Hillsborough 28-7 on Friday night.
Jesuit, ranked No. 17 in both the MaxPreps and USA Today national polls, top district foe Hillsborough 28-7 on Friday night. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Sep. 18

TAMPA — Jesuit (4-0, 1-0) jumped out to a quick lead courtesy of a pair of big plays by Wake Forest commit Jaydn Girard and never looked back in a key 28-7 Class 6A, District 10 win over Hillsborough (2-2, 0-1) at Chelo Huerta field Friday night.

The Tigers, ranked No. 17 in both the MaxPreps and USA Today national polls, scored just 90 seconds into the game when Girard ran under a high spiral from the arm of sophomore quarterback Luke Knight for a 45-yard score and a 7-0 lead.

An errant snap on a punt on Jesuit’s next possession set Hillsborough up on the Jesuit 26-yard line, but the Tiger defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs.

On the first play from scrimmage after the turnover, it was Girard (138 all-purpose yards) taking a wide receiver sweep around end and turning on the jets for an 87-yard touchdown run.

“We knew when we lined up in the two-tight end formation they were going to man us up. We got one-on-one and took a shot and hit (Girard) and we got the long touchdown,” Jesuit coach Matt Thompson said. “The next one was kind of what we do. We hit you and hit you looking for little holes, then all of a sudden we bust a big one.”

In the third quarter, the Jesuit ground game got going. A long run by senior Joquez Smith (18 carries, 172 yards) set the Tigers up in the red zone and Toledo commit Junior Vandeross (78 all-purpose yards) took it the rest of the way on a 15-yard touchdown.

Later in the quarter it was Knight hitting 6-foot-4 tight end Wade Woodaz on the waggle and the Tigers had a 28-0 lead heading into the final frame. Hillsborough senior Caleb Pierce (16-of-30, 135 yards) connected with junior Isaiah Isidore from 21 yards out to cap the scoring.

“At halftime, we talked about finishing games. Last year we were up a halftime to the eventual state champions (a 16-13 loss to Plantation American Heritage in the 5A semis),” Thompson said. “We ended up not finishing that game. Our cry all year has been that we want to finish games. That’s what championship teams do.”