TOLEDO – Toledo Central Catholic was seemingly in control in the first half of Friday’s game with Toledo City League rival, Toledo St. John’s Jesuit, but was trailing 8-7 at halftime.
And, when the Irish could not regain their first half form in the second half, the Titans parlayed one big play into a 15-7 victory.
The win propels TSJ to 3-1, while Central Catholic falls to 2-2. The Titans have won two straight since losing to Columbus DeSales.
TCC’s offense was in definite control in the first half. Time after time the Irish would execute long drives but find ways to self-destruct either through surrendering an interception or incurring a penalty. As a result, despite their offense’s statistical success, the Irish could only register one touchdown in the first two quarters.
“ I don’t believe we lost our confidence. We had a lot of turnovers in the first half, and far too many penalties,” Central head coach Greg Dempsey said. “We were consistently rolling up 10, 12 yards and then getting called for a penalty. You cannot do that and expect to win. Especially against a team like St. John’s.”
Central’s quarterback, Tyler Kleeberger, was intercepted four times in the first half and it was the last pick that ultimately led to the first St. John’s touchdown.
Late in the first half, Central was again sustaining a drive when Titan Hunter Lent intercepted Kleeberger’s pass. Three plays later the Titans scored what would prove to be the winning points when, after a Dajon Booth touchdown run of 18 yards, and following still another Irish penalty, the Titans would score a two point conversion to go ahead 8-7.
The scoring hero of the night for the victorious Titans was senior running back Dajon Booth. Booth scored all but one of the Titans’ 15 points and it was his ability to see the field and cut back against the flow of the pursuit that allowed St. John’s to get on the scoreboard in the first half.
Booth’s first touchdown was a thing of beauty. From 18 yards out, the play was designed to go to the right but when Booth recognized that the Irish defense had shut the lanes, he changed directions and, using his sprinter speed, outraced the Irish defense to the left corner of the field and barely crossed the goal line inside the corner marker.
Booth’s second touchdown came by way of a little trickery. Somehow the St. John’s coaching staff managed to sneak in back-up quarterback Walt Anderson into the offense at a slot back position. The Central Catholic defense failed to recognize Anderson’s presence on the field and the Titans used the opportunity to set up a 72 yard scoring strike to a streaking Booth cutting across the middle.
Following the Titans’ second touchdown the Irish had opportunities to tie the game but the Titan defense, as they did all night, managed to come up bid and hold the Irish off the scoreboard.
Late in the third quarter, the Irish had first and goal at the Titan 4-yard line but could not penetrate the end zone. The Irish surprisingly went for a field goal on fourth down but missed the 20-yard attempt.
The missed field goal would be as close as the Irish would come to scoring for the remainder of the contest.
Although grateful for the win against his old friend, Titan head coach Doug Pearson was clearly distraught in his team’s offensive effort.
“Offensively, I was very disappointed,” Pearson said. “We did not execute well and we’re fortunate to have come out of here with a win. We have plenty to work on this week and we will – trust me.”