MANATEE -- Turnovers proved costly for the Bayshore High Bruins on Friday, ultimately leading to a deflating 31-6 loss to Tampa Catholic in the season opener.
Bayshore fumbled three times, and all three fumbles led to touchdowns for Tampa Catholic, one of which was recovered by the visiting Crusaders and returned for a touchdown.
"We had two awesome drives," said Bayshore coach Jean P. Gordon . "The first one we took it down and scored on, and that's a good football team. We kind of manhandled them going down there. The second drive, we took it down and almost punched it in. You can't get any closer than that. One thing we always tell the kids is you got to finish."
On Bayshore's first drive, the Bruins dominated Tampa Catholic at the line of scrimmage and capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown run by senior Calvin Williams. The extra point was missed. In the second quarter, the Bruins were looking to take a two-touchdown lead but Bayshore's Dereck Williams was stripped at the goal line, allowing Tampa Catholic to march 91 yards for a touchdown to take a lead it would never surrender. Bayshore failed to enter the red zone the remainder of the game.
Junior T.J. Harrell led Tampa Catholic with 83 yards and one touchdown, which included a 59-yard run for a score in the second quarter to give Tampa Catholic a 7-6 lead heading into the locker room.
With just under four minutes left in the first half, Tampa Catholic scored on a 16-yard touchdown pass when junior quarterback Kyle Poucher connected with junior Justin Motlow, giving the Crusaders a 14-6 lead in the third quarter. Less than a minute later, Tampa Catholic's Willie Conley recovered a fumble at Bayshore's 33 and returned it for a touchdown.
"Those are big changers," Gordon said. "That's a huge momentum changer. That's 14 points right there. Instead of looking at 13-0, and I'm probably going for two (on Williams' possible touchdown) and we're there and we're in and it's 14-0. Kids are different when they're in that position."
Defensively, Tampa Catholic sacked Bayshore quarterback Jonathan Lewis five times. Lewis finished the game 8-of-13 for 53 yards. Calvin Williams led the offense with 79 yards on the ground while junior Karnell Oliver added 48. Dereck Williams finished with 46 yards on the ground.
"I coach running back so I need to have them hanging onto the football," Gordon said "We had three critical fumbles. Last week we had a fumble that was a critical fumble. We only had one, but it was critical."
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams