MARAUDERS 30 CRUSADERS 3
CLEARWATER – A chilly night wasn’t enough to keep the Clearwater Central Catholic offense from heating up just enough Friday.
Coming of a first-round bye as the Class 3A Region 3 No. 1 seed, CCC scored on its opening drive and never trailed Tampa Catholic during a commanding 30-3 victory.
Senior Casey Levy broke off a 21-yard run to cap the first possession and the Marauders’ swarming defense was all over Tampa Catholic, but CCC couldn’t quite add to its lead. Penalties were no help and the Crusaders blocked a field goal late in the first quarter.
CCC didn’t register its second score until about a minute before halftime. Quarterback Rory Hicks connected on back-to-back passes to get the Marauders to the Tampa Catholic 26, but another 15-yard personal foul pushed the line of scrimmage back to the 41.
Hicks, who threw for more than 200 yards and two scores, dropped a pass right into the hands of sophomore Makkah Jordan on the next play. Jordan recovered after juggling the pass and reached the end zone for a 41-yard hookup that extended CCC’s lead to 14-0.
CCC pulled away for good in the third despite failing to take advantage of Tampa Catholic fumbling away the half’s opening kick. A deflected pass deep in Crusaders territory led to a D.D. Snyder interception. Tampa Catholic took over at its own 1 but CCC still managed to get back on the board when Marauders defensive end Kennedy Roberts sped into the backfield for a safety.
The advantage increased to 23-0 less than five minutes later with Hicks’ second touchdown pass of the night, an 18-yarder to Jerjuan Newton. The senior spun off the first tackler before darting across the goal line.
The Crusaders’ best chance at reaching the end zone came late in the third. But when that drive stalled out inside the CCC 10, Tampa Catholic opted for a 24-yard Drew Hutson field goal.
That would be it for the Crusaders' scoring on the night and CCC recorded its final touchdown with eight minutes remaining in the game. Levy shook off a couple would-be tacklers to notch his second score with a 12-yard run.
The victory sets up another rematch of a regular-season game in next week’s region final. CCC beat Tampa Catholic 34-14 on Sept. 7 and next week brings No. 2 Berkeley Prep. The Buccaneers hosted No. 6 Calvary Christian and won 21-13.
CCC opened its season with a 35-14 beating of Berkeley Prep and will host Friday’s rematch.
Awaiting the winner of that game will be Region 3A-4 top seed Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna or No. 3 Delray Beach American Heritage. The Marauders 2017 campaign ended in the Class 3A state final four with a home loss against Chaminade-Madonna.
5A: (8) Jefferson 34 (4) Lakewood 23
3A: (2) Berkeley 21 (6) Calvary 13
2A: (1) Farragut 40 (5) Cambridge 14
5A: (3) N. Marion 40 (2) Z-Hills 21
2A: (2) Foundation 42 (3) Z-Hills Christ.12