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Jesuit/TC Notebook: Freshman RB Davis shines in spotlight

Posted Nov 9, 2013 by Bart O'Connell

Updated Nov 9, 2013 at 01:36 AM

TAMPA—In his first experience of playing in a big high school football rivalry game, Jesuit freshman RB Malik Davis appeared to be the most comfortable offensive player on the field during Friday’s 13-9 win against Tampa Catholic.

The speedy 5-foot-10 runner provided most of the Tigers’ early-game offensive spark. His first five carries all went for at least 10 yards, and he finished with 12 carries for 124 yards on the night.

“Not at all, I wasn’t surprised,” said Jesuit coach Matt Thompson of Davis. “He’s going to be one of the best backs in this area.”

Davis did not start, but came in late on Jesuit’s first offensive drive and posted back-to-back runs of 11 and 13 yards, setting up the first of two Rliett Waldron field goals.

He rushed the Tigers into field goal range again two drives later, gaining 13 and 32 yards on consecutive plays, before an interception thwarted the drive.

The Jesuit/TC games are usually decided by the best rushing team, and Davis led the Tigers to a 178-to-64 edge in rushing yards over the Crusaders.

KEEPING HEADS UP: Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory’s message to the team after the loss was about the future, and how beating Jesuit is not the ultimate goal his team should have.

“This is just a bump in the road,” Gregory said on the field to the players afterwards. “It stings. It’s going to hurt. If you want to cry about it on the bus, go ahead…But this is not our main goal, our objective. That starts next week.”

The Crusaders (8-2) dominated Class 3A-District 4 en route to winning the title and will host Melbourne Holy Trinity in the first round of the postseason.

“Let’s shock everybody and go win a state title,” he said.

TOP PERFORMERS: The stat sheet showed a remarkable defensive effort by Jesuit, which held Tampa Catholic to 190 total yards and sacked Crusaders QB Kyle Ploucher six times.

Parker Looney had a pair of sacks on Ploucher in the final drive, while Jack Taylor had 1.5 sacks as well as a blocked extra point.

Tampa Catholic also had some stars on defense, mainly Willie Conley, who intercepted the Tigers twice.

On offense, T.J. Harrell overcame a slow first half to rush for 83 yards and a TD on 12 carries. He had just eight yards rushing at halftime.

Ploucher finished 12-of-21 passing for 126 yards. Justin Motlow had seven receptions for 99 yards.

Jesuit finished with 232 yards of offense. In addition to Davis, Kevin Newman had 66 total yards (49 rushing, 17 receiving) and the Tigers’ lone touchdown. Ryan Black had 53 yards receiving and 13 yards rushing.

STREAK STATS: In addition to winning their 14th consecutive game in the rivalry, the Tigers have also won 22 of the last 24 since 1990. Jesuit leads the all-time series 36-11 since the rivalry began in 1965 with the first varsity meeting.

ODDS AND ENDS: Former Jesuit soccer coach Bob Bauman was honored at halftime. ... Former TC head coach and current Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez watched the game from the sidelines throughout. ... FOX 13 news anchor Kelly Ring tweeted that she served the pregame meal to Jesuit before kickoff.

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