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Two touchdowns in the final minutes rally Marauders past Cardinal Mooney.
By CHRIS GIRANDOLA
Published November 19, 2005
CLEARWATER - It wasn't a Hail Mary. But, it was a holy McCarthy that pulled a miraculous victory out of the grasp of defeat for Clearwater Central Catholic.
Senior linebacker Colin McCarthy took a short Sarasota Cardinal Mooney kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 17, then intercepted a pass to set up Ronnie Harris' 2-yard touchdown plunge with eight seconds remaining that gave the Marauders an improbable 24-17 victory.
"At halftime, the coaches left the room and game-planned and they let the seniors talk to the players," said McCarthy, who had 11 solo tackles on defense. "We just told everybody to pull it together, forget about the first half and just play two more quarters the way we know how to."
After being completely outplayed in the first half in every facet of the game, CCC wasted no time. Cardinal Mooney running back Tom Bell took a reverse and rolled out to his right. Bell had wide receiver Chris Muldoon (6 receptions for 137 yards) open in the flat but Bell slipped and the ball sailed into the hands of CCC defensive back Grant Ridgeway, who returned the interception 40 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead.
But, on Cardinal Mooney's next possession, quarterback Vinny Corona teamed up with Muldoon time and time again, eventually completing a 48-yard touchdown pass to regain the lead, 14-7.
The Cougars benefitted from one of many costly penalties CCC committed on the night. The Marauders were penalized 10 times for 110 yards.
"We were so jacked up to play tonight, I just feel we let our emotions get the best of us," said CCC coach Mike Jaluszo, who brings the Marauders to the state semifinals for the first time in school history. "We played great defensively the whole game but we have to do a better job on offense and, obviously, with our composure."
The Cougars jumped to an early lead on a brilliant 44-yard run by fullback Hunter Ovens. CCC's only productive drive in the first half led to a 34-yard field goal by Anthony Leandri to make the score 7-3 at halftime.
Harris finished with 99 yards on 22 carries. CCC quarterback Andrew Nowells struggled, finishing 8-for-21 for only 85 yards and one touchdown.