TAMPA — The Fort Meade High football team came into Tampa Catholic on Friday night looking for some payback after TC eliminated the Miners from the playoffs last season by one point.
“But we knew Fort Meade was out for blood,” TC coach Mike Gregory said. “We were ready for it.”
Were they ever.
TC not only beat the visiting Miners, the Crusaders flat out dominated in the second half en route to a key 39-13 Class 3A-District 4 victory.
The difference, Gregory said, had to do partly with Fort Meade’s 26-man roster, and players wearing down because most of them go both ways.
“We knew that depth for (Fort Meade) could be an issue,” Gregory said. “So we tried to take advantage of that (by keeping TC fresh with player rotations).”
In the end, TC (3-1, 1-0) had five running backs combine for more than 180 yards, with T.J. Harrell leading all rushers with 10 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns, one for 35 yards and a second for 3.
Harrell gained more than 50 of his yards in the second half as TC outscored Fort Meade (3-1,0-1) 26-0.
TC started the scoring in the first few minutes when Kyle Ploucher hit Isiah Osby for a 61-yard TD strike.
Fort Meade answered with a 61-yard TD pass of its own, and the teams traded TD runs and a couple of missed extra points.
In the first half, it was tied at 13, and it was even in pretty much every other regard, as well.
“They have a lot of speed and weapons, and they showed that in the first half,” Gregory said. “We might see them again (in the playoffs) and we will never take them for granted.”
Fort Meade 7 6 0 0 — 13
Tampa Cath. 6 7 10 16 — 39
TC - Osby 61 pass from Ploucher (kick failed)
FM - Culpepper 61 pass from Smith (Hodge kick)
TC - Harrell 35 run (Sarafianos kick)
FM - Smith 4 run (kick blocked)
TC - FG Sarafianos 31
TC - Sanders 40 punt return (Sarafianos kick)
TC - Harrell 3 run (Sarafianos kick)
TC - FG Sarafianos 29
TC - Bryant 2 run (kick failed)