| ||19 |
|C.C. Catholic || ||10 |
SARASOTA - The first time Sarasota Cardinal Mooney tailback Hunter Ovens carried the ball Friday, Clearwater Central Catholic's defense stacked him behind the line of scrimmage for a 3-yard loss.
The rest of the night was not so kind to the Marauders.
Ovens rushed for both Cardinal Mooney touchdowns and took nearly all of the defensive snaps at linebacker.
His punting routinely put CCC in poor field position, as the Cougars reached the Class 2B semifinals with a 19-10 win, ending the visiting Marauders' season.
"I've watched him play for four years now, and he's really matured," CCC coach Mike Jalazo said.
"I thought we did a pretty good job against him, but we didn't take advantage of our chances."
CCC 7-5, which knocked Cardinal Mooney out of the playoffs last season, lost to the Cougars for the second time this year.
Cardinal Mooney coach Mike Dowling said he noticed early Friday that his team was prepared to atone for last year's season-ending loss.
"You could have heard a pin drop (Friday) in mass," Dowling said. "This team was focused."
CCC had trouble all night protecting quarterback Brent Henderson.
The Cougars (12-0) sacked Henderson (6-of-18, 128 yards) seven times and harassed him repeatedly.
But Jalazo pointed to other problems the Marauders had throughout the game.
"I thought we protected (Henderson) good enough to win," he said.
"But we settled for a field goal after dropping a pass, had another drop that led to a pick and made too many mistakes on the special teams."
Ovens, who rushed for 136 yards on 23 carries, averaged 42.5 yards per punt. CCC had just one offensive possession that started past its 35-yard line.
"We were backed up all night," Jalazo said. "Look at any league, and you don't see too many 80-yard drives."
Following Ovens' first touchdown run, CCC kicker Jeff Ijjas cut the deficit to 6-3 with a 44-yard field goal.
The Marauders then took their only lead when Henderson took off up the middle and broke it down the left sideline for an 84-yard touchdown.
"(Henderson) got hit a lot, but he also hung in there and made some big plays," Jalazo said.
But a 7-yard score from Ovens put Mooney ahead 13-10 just before halftime, and Tommy McCabe booted a pair of fourth-quarter field goals to seal the win.
Contact Brandon Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-892-2216