Sean Cavanaugh returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and the St. John the Baptist football team was off to a great start.
Too bad the Holy Trinity defense took it personal. The host Titans shut out St. John the Baptist for the final 47 minutes to blow out the Cougars, 28-7, in a CHSFL semifinal playoff game Saturday.
Holy Trinity responded with two first-quarter touchdown drives, keyed by its run-first offense and halfback Umari Taylor.
“All we thought after they scored right away was, ‘hey, go get it back,’ ” Taylor said. “It made us mad and ignited the team.”
A fire surely was lit. The ensuing Titans drive was capped by Taylor’s 41-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 7 with 9:23 left in the first quarter. Taylor finished the game with 152 yards rushing.
St. John the Baptist drove to the Holy Trinity 17 but a big stop on a fourth down and short by junior linebacker Gabriel Gelves stymied the scoring threat.
Holy Trinity (9-1) kept the momentum and drove 83 yards in 10 plays, capped by Taylor’s 19-yard scoring run to put the Titans up 14-7 with 2:25 to go in the first quarter.
“We trusted all of the keys we were given,” said senior halfback Jared Williams, who totaled 61 yards on the ground and a score. “And we trusted our O-line.”
With the St. John the Baptist offense unable to move the ball, the Titans went on another long scoring drive. Senior quarterback Matthew Ragno mixed a variety of short passes and gritty runs to move to the Cougars’ 33-yard line. Ragno found senior William Corchado for a 33-yard touchdown pass for a 21-7 lead with 1:35 left in the half.
“We needed to control the ball,” Holy Trinity coach Tony Mascia said. “Our line was going to be important.”
Indeed it was. The Titans pushed St. John the Baptist all over the field, methodically eating up the clock and extending the lead. The Titans chewed up 7:51 of the third quarter, highlighted by multiple runs from Taylor and Williams. Williams ultimately wrapped up the march with an 18-yard score up the left side for the 28-7 lead with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
The rest was left to the Titans defense, which assured them a berth in the CHSFL Class AA championship next weekend.