For the 3rd time in the past four seasons, Jesuit football is headed to the State Semifinal.
The Tigers toppled rival Jefferson 34-14 on Friday night (Nov. 23) at Corral Memorial Stadium to claim the Region Championship.
Next Friday (Nov. 30), Jesuit will travel to Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons to play for a berth in the 5A State Championship game. Cardinal Gibbons defeated Plantation American Heritage in its Region Final, 35-7.
Friday at Jesuit, the Tigers scored 25 unanswered points to overcome a 14-9 2nd quarter deficit. The defense allowed two long TD plays in the first half and then shut down the Dragons, with seniors Matthew Pittman, Patrick Leone, Jaden Pask, Christian Beatty, Zack Meurer, and Dane Belton leading the way. Belton snared a leaping interception in the 2nd half that flipped field position and put Jesuit in command.
On offense, Rick Parks ’21 had TD runs of 48 yards and 1 yard, Kiael Kelly ’21 threw a 5-yard TD pass to Jonathan Odom ‘20, Larry Hodges ’19 had a 15-yard TD run and 2-point conversion, and Cade Freeman ’20 made field goals from 46 and 45 yards.
The offensive line, led by senior guard Jake Lewis, kept the Jesuit ground game churning from start to finish. Parks, Kelly, Hodges, Pittman and Nick Spurlin ’20 all had several good rushes.
In 2015 Jesuit beat Jefferson and then Fort Myers Dunbar in the Region Final before falling to Orlando Bishop Moore in the State Semifinal. In 2016, the Tigers beat Jefferson again and then knocked off Immokalee in the Region Final before succumbing 21-14 at nationally ranked American Heritage.
This is the 50th anniversary season of Jesuit’s lone football State Championship in 1968.
Click below for a photo slideshow from the Region Final victory over Jefferson.