Football

Clearwater Central Catholic gets out of 3A Region Semis with thrilling victory

Clearwater Central Catholic QB Rory Hicks looks to pass in a Class 3A-Region 3 Semifinal against Tampa Catholic on Friday night. Hicks threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Brett Seifert as time expired. Photo Credit: Will Turner/FHSF
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Clearwater Central Catholic keeps their season alive with a thrilling walk-off touchdown pass from Rory Hicks to Brett Seither

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CLEARWATER, Fla. – On September 8, Clearwater Central Catholic shut out Tampa Catholic at Marauder Stadium. Following that and a loss to Melbourne Central Catholic, the Crusaders rattled off six straight wins before losing to Jesuit last week.

On Friday night, Tampa Catholic was looking for revenge.

On Friday night, Clearwater Central Catholic pulled off a miracle to take their second win over the Crusaders in 2017.

The Marauders and Crusaders traded a touchdown in the first quarter. Johnny Newton rushed for 45-yards on CCC’s opening drive, capping off an 11-play drive with a bullying five-yard rush. Charlie Dean scored Tampa Catholic’s first points with an 11-yard scramble after surveying the field and finding nothing.

Early in the second, CCC QB Rory Hicks found C.J. Catia in stride down the left sideline for a 27-yard score. Tampa Catholic would fire back with an 11-play drive of its own, finishing off with a five-yard rushing touchdown from Caleb Tate.

Two plays into the Marauder’s next drive, Newton would fumble, giving Tampa Catholic a chance. The drive stalled after just five plays, giving CCC the ball back at their 27. Hicks fired a 25-yard pass to Jerjuan Newton, but two passes later, Hicks was intercepted looking for him again.

Aamani Felix jumped the route and gave Hicks’ pass a ride to the end zone to put Tampa Catholic ahead 21-14.

The Marauders would tack on a 33-yard field goal from Preston McDonald to end the half at 21-17 in favor of the Crusaders.

Immediately after halftime, Jerjuan Newton had an 18-yard burst to set up Johnny Newton’s (his brother) second rushing touchdown of the night from eight yards away. With only five minutes into the third quarter, scoring was not at a premium.

The reason why? Tampa Catholic had an answer to nearly everything CCC did. Example: on the ensuing drive, Tampa Catholic got the ball inside Marauder territory. Dean went 11 more yards to set up a one-yard dart from Quincy Hipps.

Then the Marauders fired back on three plays. The Newton and Newton show led the way on the next three-play drive. Jerjuan started the drive out with a 30-yard power rush to the outside, then Johnny did the rest with runs of 14 and 18 yards on the next two plays. Hicks finished it off with an 11-yard quarterback keeper to put CCC up 31-28.

Tate got his second rushing touchdown with a 4-yard rush after Dean fired a 40-yard dart to Joseph Hodge.

CCC would get the ball back, but couldn’t do anything with it after Hicks was sacked by Dorien Gooch on second down. Tampa Catholic’s possible put-away drive was then stalled out on fourth down.

The Marauders turned to the Newton brothers again, who piled up 20 more yards, then turned to Deandre Fitzhenley, who powered forward for ten yards. The next play, however, he would fumble, giving TC the ball back with 2:02 to play. Messiah Turner had the great individual effort on the fumble.

Three well-used timeouts and defensive stops from head coach Chris Harvey and the Marauder defense forced a Crusader punt. Hicks fired a pair of passes to Richie Ilarraza to put the Marauders inside the TC 30. A holding call pushed them back.

Hicks fired two straight incomplete passes. Three seconds left. Fourth and 17. The Marauders needed a miracle to save their season.

Hicks dropped back to pass, looking to his left. He fired a touch pass down the left sideline to Brett Seither.

“Coach told me to just throw it up,” Hicks said.

In seconds, Marauders enveloped Seither. He brought it down. Game over.

“Indescribable. To have all of my teammates come up to me after, it’s just indescribable,” Seither said.

“That catch was an emotion in itself. It was really a rollercoaster,” Harvey said.

A game that had seven lead changes and two ties. A shootout in its finest form.

“That’s a great football team over there. Tonight was really a testament to our guys. They have worked their tails off all season to put themselves in a position like this,” Harvey said.

With the thrilling victory, Clearwater Central Catholic advances to the Class 3A-Region 3 Final against Calvary Christian (Clearwater), who took down Lakeland Christian 24-10 on Friday night.

Quotable:

“Do you know who Brett Seither is? Now you do. That’s what this team is made of. Every week there’s a new guy that steps up and makes a play and that’s really exciting for us. There’s a lot of things we still have to correct, but finishing isn’t one of them. I’m really proud of these guys for the way they finished and we’ll see how far this can go.” – Harvey

“The team has really helped me out this past year. The offensive line has made my job a whole lot easier. It was all a smooth transition with school and football, and its been really nice here.” – Hicks on his transition from transferring from Countryside to CCC

“It feels so good. All of the Newtons, we just want to keep coming in and producing for this team every year.” – Johnny Newton on keeping the Newton family name strong at CCC



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