Tampa Catholic Slips Past Fort Meade, 24-23
Fri. November 16, 2012 at 11:00 p.m. | By Mike Cobb
Fort Meade's Ryan Fulse breaks a tackle from a Tampa Catholic defender Friday night during the Class 3A regional quarterfinals. (Photo by GEORGE AYCRIGG | LEDGER MEDIA GROUP )
By MIKE COBB
FORT MEADE | When you get to the playoffs and you're playing close games, the outcome can often rest on four or five plays.
Tampa Catholic's 24-23 win over Fort Meade in the Class 3A regional semifinals was a perfect example of that.
The Crusaders (8-3) move on to face Clearwater Central Catholic, a 35-0 winner over Frostproof, next Friday.
In a game when both teams made a few big plays, in the end, it came down to one of the simplest plays that provided the final margin.
After Tampa Catholic had taken a 24-17 lead with 2:07 left on T.J. Harrell's 64-yard run and Michael Sarafianos' extra point, Fort Meade quarterback Jay Smith brought the Miners back down field and threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Tobias Culpepper with 1:06 to play.
On the PAT, however, Smith, the holder, bobbled the snap and his desperation pass into the end zone for the conversion fell to the ground. Tampa Catholic then recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
"It's always a couple of crucial plays (in a close game)," Fort Meade coach Jemalle Cornelius said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to execute on something a lot of people turn away from and don't pay a lot of attention to. You have to take care of the little things."
Throughout the night, it was a game of momentum swings and big plays. Tampa Catholic took an early 7-0 lead on a 41-yard pass from Kyle Ploucher to Justin Motlow on the Crusaders' opening possession, but the Miners responded to control the remainder of the first half and take a 10-7 halftime lead.
De'Vante Clark scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Smith, and Jack Cortez added a 33-yard field goal as the Miners rushed for 179 yards in the first half that ended with them holding an edge in total yards of 232-102 at halftime.
Fort Meade's Chris Morris returned the second half kickoff 96 yards for at touchdown giving Fort Meade a 17-7 lead.
Tampa Catholic 7 0 7 10 — 24
Fort Meade 7 3 7 6 — 23
TC – Justin Motlow 41 pass from Kyle Ploucher (Michael Sarafianos kick), 7:29.
FM – De'Vante Clark 14 pass from Jay Smith (Jack Cortez kick), 2:11
FM – Jack Cortez 33 FG, 2:48
FM – Chris Morris 96 kickoff return (Cortez kick), 11:39
TC – Justin Vertino 1 run (Sarafianos kick), 3:00
TC — Sarafianos 34 FG, 7:39
TC – T.J. Harrell 64 run (Sarafianos kick) , 2:07
FM¬ – Tobias Culpepper 33 pass from Jay Smith (kick failed), 1:06
TC || FM
First Downs 12 19
Rushes/yards 28/165 36/208
Passing yards 103 154
Passing 8-15-1 12-21-1
Total offense 268 362
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 0/0
Punts/avg 4/49.2 3/38.3
Penalties/yds 7/40 4/35
Records 8-3 8-3
Rushing: TC — T.J. Harrell 10-115. FM — De'Vante Clark 16-109, Ryan Fulse 15-108.
Passing: TC—Kyle Ploucher 8-15-1, 103 yards; FM— Jay Smith 12-21-1 154 yards.
Receiving: TC—Justin Motlow 3-76; FM— Tobias Culpepper 4-58.