Tampa Catholic 35, Inlet Grove 7

By BRANDON WRIGHT, Times Staff Writer
Published November 17, 2007

TAMPA - Tampa Catholic, coming off an emotionally charged loss to Jesuit, seemed a little off kilter against Inlet Grove on Friday. The Crusaders were moving the ball and the defense looked solid, but there was something missing.

"There's no other way to put it because it happens every year," Crusaders coach Bob Henriquez said. "When you play your archrival in Week 10, it's draining emotionally and we were sluggish at first."

Enter TC quarterback Christian Green.

Green's 65-yard pass near the end of the half breathed life into TC and the Crusaders cruised from there, handily defeating Inlet Grove 35-7 in the 2A region semifinals.

"That," Henriquez said, "gave us all the momentum we needed."

Ahead 14-7 with 1:13 left in the half and hemmed in at their 6-yard line after a punt, the Crusaders' Drew Zink (17 carries, 78 yards) broke off a 24-yard run. Matt Mudano then made a 10-yard catch in traffic and after a penalty, Kenny Broadnax ran under a Green spiral for a 21-7 lead with 17 seconds remaining in the half. Green finished 8-of-11 for 134 yards with two rushing TDs.

"That sequence took the wind out of their sails," Henriquez said.

The stout Crusaders defense held Inlet Grove to 146 yards, forced eight punts, had five sacks, two interceptions and a pair of bone-crunching licks by P.J. Briody and Ralph Glover.

Henry McCloud scored the Crusaders' other two TDs on runs of 30 and 2 yards.

The Crusaders next face Clewiston, a team that has knocked TC out of the playoffs the past two seasons by a combined four points.

"I think we have the talent (to win state)," Green said. "We have some good teams in front of us but we just need to show up each game."