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Buccaneers falter in loss


© St. Petersburg Times, published August 26, 2000

NEW PORT RICHEY -- If Gulf coach Keith Newton values development more than victory in a jamboree, he went to bed happy Friday. If new Tampa Catholic coach John Diehl thinks comeback wins in poor performances breed character -- and he does -- he slept like a baby, too.

Dominated for three quarters and hamstrung by mistakes, the Crusaders scored 19 consecutive fourth-quarter points to upend Gulf 25-14.

The deciding factor in TC's comeback was the same as in Gulf's building of a 14-6 lead -- turnovers. Jose Segarra Rivera's 77-yard return of fumble set up a 5-yard touchdown run for quarterback Joey Pupello -- his second -- for an 18-14 TC lead. On the Bucs' next series, Gary Garcia intercepted a Paul Krisanda pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.

"What helped us in the first half beat us in the second half," Newton said. "But I thought we played pretty fair for what we asked them to do."

Gulf dominated in the first three quarters. Three fumbles, penalties and blocking breakdowns limited TC to nine plays in the first half.

Bubba Violante (15 rushes, 69 yards) gave Gulf a 7-0 lead with a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but Larry Sanders' 96-yard punt return pulled TC to within 7-6 in the second quarter. On a drive started when Sanders fumbled a punt and aided by roughing-the-punter and pass interference penalties, Martinez scored from the 1 for a 14-6 lead late in the second quarter.

A 25-yard Pupello run pulled TC within 14-12 with 6:30 left.

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