TAMPA — Friday, from the moment Jesuit coach Matt Thompson heard he'd lost starting quarterback Vincent Testaverde to urgent appendix surgery up until the final minutes of the game between the Tigers and Tampa Catholic, it never seemed that Jesuit would win its 14th straight game in the rivalry.
As the minutes ticked down in the second half, and Jesuit's 13-point lead shrunk to seven, then to four, “the streak”, as it's become known to all around these two Catholic schools, appeared destined to end.
But behind all of the unheralded Jesuit players who came up big in the fourth quarter, the result was one that has become all too familiar for both sides.
Jesuit 13, Tampa Catholic 9. The streak is still alive.
“I've had a lot of heart-stoppers today,” said Thompson, who learned of Testaverde's condition seven hours before the game, via text message. “But I think losing Testaverde kind of made us closer together. When you lose your quarterback, your team can be deflated or inflated.”
The Tigers' defense sealed the victory after Jesuit's failed field goal snap gave Tampa Catholic the ball at the Jesuit 45-yard line with 1:22 remaining.
But sophomore Parker Looney sacked Crusaders quarterback Kyle Ploucher twice, setting up fourth-and-long. Then, James Vrionis' tackle ended the TC rally.
Jesuit (7-3) scored its only touchdown on a 1-yard run by Kevin Newman, which was set up by a pair of longer runs by freshman Malik Davis, who finished with 124 yards on 12 carries. Rhett Waldron made field goals of 26 yards in the first quarter and 25 in the third.
T.J. Harrell had Tampa Catholic's lone touchdown, on a 39-yard run in the third. But the Crusaders (8-2) were held to just 190 yards of total offense and were sacked six times.
Tampa Catholic 0 0 6 3 — 9
Jesuit 3 7 3 0 — 13
J – FG Waldron 26
J – Newman 1 run (Waldron kick)
J – FG Waldron 25
TC – Harrell 39 run (kick failed)
TC – FG Sarafianos 36