Friday night, Jesuit hit blackjack: 21 years of consecutive victories over rival Tampa Catholic.
Every year this century, the Tigers have defeated their biggest football rival. This time, it was three second-half TD drives that propelled Jesuit to a 35-21 win and completed the Tigers' first undefeated (10-0) regular season since 2016. (Click here for a Tampa Bay Times story about the game.)
In doing so they pushed "The Streak" into its third decade. This one was very different, however, in one regard: There was no raucous Blue Tide to help inspire the Tigers to victory. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, TC limited Jesuit's total ticket allotment to 100, which meant no student supporters. As the Tigers celebrated on the field afterward, several players took turns running with a giant Blue Tide flag.
Tied at 14 at halftime, Jesuit seized command on the first play from scrimmage of the second half when Caleb Williams '22 intercepted a TC pass. A few plays later, Jo Smith '23 scored the first of his two rushing TDs, and Jesuit had a lead it would never relinquish.
Smith scampered in from 3 yards out at the start of the 4th quarter to make it 28-14 Tigers, and after TC cut it to 28-21, QB Joe Pesansky '21 took over. Pesansky completed a 3rd-and-14 to Jarriett Buie '23 to keep the drive alive, and with just over a minute remaining, Pesansky rumbled in from 3 yards out to clinch the win.
Junior Vandeross '22, who had two interceptions last season vs. TC, starred again this year. With Jesuit trailing 14-7 in the 2nd quarter, Vandeross took a short inside pass from Pesansky, pivoted toward the sideline and dashed 70 yards to tie the game.
Jesuit had scored first for a 7-0 lead on a blocked punt by Tyler Corish '22 that Troy Bowles '23 (pictured on the homepage) ran in for a TD. Bowles also had an interception late in the first half to keep the score tied at halftime. Kicker Max Gonzalez '21 was a perfect 5-for-5 on PATs.
Due to irregularities in scheduling because of COVID-19, the football playoff brackets were set weeks ago. So, despite winning their 7th District title in head coach Matt Thompson's 8 seasons, the Tigers will travel to River Ridge next Friday (Nov. 13) for an opening round playoff game.
Coming soon: a photo slideshow from the win over TC.