TAMPA — A year after losing to Tampa Catholic for the first time in 23 seasons, Jesuit smashed down the accelerator on its arch rival Friday night and never let up.
The Tigers, in fact, scored on all 10 of their possessions and ran away with a 66-35 victory, ending the Crusaders’ win streak in the rivalry at one.
In the process, several Tigers stepped into the spotlight, none more so than sophomore quarterback Will Griffin. He completed 24 of 31 passes for 391 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns, breaking the previous record of five in a game held by Griffin (last year) and a couple of others.
“After losing last year, I felt horrible because I felt a huge sense of responsibility,” Griffin said. “This year I felt like I had to step up and get everybody prepared. I was determined to get everything right.”
Jesuit (8-2) has never been more efficient this year, particularly on offense, finishing with 637 total yards.
On the ground, the Tigers were led by Justin Thurman (201 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries). Willy Suarez paced all receivers with 170 yards and three touchdowns on seven catches.
But the numbers were secondary to the win.
“This game is huge for Jesuit, and everybody wanted to get that last loss to (Tampa Catholic) behind us and start another streak,” Griffin said. “Now we have. Now we started another one.”
Jesuit coach Matt Thompson said last year’s 20-19 loss to Tampa Catholic ate at him throughout the year.
“I woke up many times in the middle of the night the past year because of that game,” Thompson said. “I thought we would play well (Friday) because we were so determined, but I didn’t think we would put up 66 points. I mean, our offense was really, really clicking.”
Jesuit led 10-0 after the first quarter, but Tampa Catholic (4-5) answered with a long touchdown drive to cut the gap to 10-7 with 9:18 remaining in the second.
On Jesuit’s next handoff, however, Thurman broke up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown run.
After that, Tampa Catholic never got closer than 10 points.
“I thought we have shown flashes of what we’re capable of offensively this year but we haven’t put it together for an entire game,” Thompson said. “(Friday), we did.”