TAMPA — After beating its arch-rival last week, Jesuit coach Matt Thompson worried his team would come out flat against Auburndale (3-7) in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Jesuit held on to win the game 29-21, but it was far from the Tiger's best effort.
“Our team has to realize we have to be focused every week and every game,” Thompson said. “It's the playoffs, and a Polk County 3-7 is completely different from a Hillsborough County 3-7. Polk County teams play physical football.”
In the first quarter after forcing back-to-back three-and-outs, Jesuit blocked a punt and took over at Auburndale's 1-yard line. Kevin Newman ran it in on the next play to put Jesuit up 7-0.
After a safety put the Tigers up 9-0, the Jesuit offense came to life.
QB Trent Wessel filled in for Vincent Testaverde for the second straight game and led Jesuit on a 50-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard pass to Drew Paulsen for a 15-0 lead.
Auburndale cut the lead to 15-7 before halftime.
Wessel led another Jesuit scoring drive, finishing it off with an 11-yard shovel pass to Ryan Black. Auburndale fumbled the kickoff and Wessel had his third touchdown pass of the night on a 24-yard strike to Black again to make it 29-7.
A Jesuit fumble set up a 12-yard Auburndale touchdown by Jorge Deloach. The Bloodhounds got a 75-yard halfback pass from Jessie Britt to Deloach to make it 29-21 with 5:26 left in the 4th quarter.
Auburndale would not get the ball back as Jesuit ran out the clock.
Newman had 105 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Auburndale 0 7 0 14 — 21
Jesuit 7 8 14 0 — 29
J-Newman 1 run (Waldron kick)
J-Safety (Ball through back of end zone)
J-Paulsen 7 pass from Wessel (conversion fail)
A-Britt 25 pass from Wilkerson (Young kick)
J-Black 11 pass from Wessel (Waldron kick)
J-Black 24 pass from Wessel (Waldron kick)
A-Deloach 12 run (Young kick)
A-Deloach 75 pass from Britt (Young kick)