Keswick Chr. 48, Victory Chr. 27

The Crusaders finally take down Lakeland Victory Christian to advance to the region finals.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
Published November 17, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - To reach the second round of the playoffs, to finally fill in the blanks on the glittering resumes that lacked postseason glory, the Keswick Christian Crusaders conceded it was only appropriate they would have to vanquish their greatest tormenters.

The Lakeland Victory Christian Storm had used the Crusaders as doormats, stepping over them in the regular season on their way to two straight appearances in the state final.

But Friday night, Keswick fought back. The Crusaders jumped to an early lead, then traded scores with the Storm through most of a thrilling second half to win 48-27.

"This was our nemesis," Keswick coach Rick Sanson said of Victory. "It was a big mental block for us and we got over that."

The Crusaders did it by relying on several big plays, something they lacked in previous games against their arch-rival.

On its opening possession, Keswick scored on a 35-yard pass from Jared Stacy to Tarvin Jones. After forcing an interception, the Crusaders scored on a 64-yard run by Jared DiMaggio.

The Storm countered with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Mike Skjefte to Tegan Johnson to make it 14-7. Keswick answered on Stacy's 7-yard scoring pass to Jones to go ahead 21-7.

Then came the turning point.

Victory went on a drive late in the second quarter but ran out of time with the ball inside the Crusaders' 5-yard line.

The Storm also had the ball first in the second half but Skjefte fumbled and Brandon McGuire recovered for Keswick. Three plays later, DiMaggio scored to give the Crusaders a comfortable 28-14 lead.

"We couldn't let past disappointments against Victory get in our head," Stacy said. "This is our year and we're not going to let any team stand in our way."

Keswick Christian 48 Victory Christian 27