TAMPA — As Tampa Catholic’s offense struggled through bad snaps and missed opportunities during most of Friday’s first half, it was the defense that stepped up in a 14-6 preseason victory over Decatur (Ga.) Columbia.
Senior DJ Taylor led the Crusaders with three interceptions as Columbia managed only one first down in the first half and turned the ball over on downs twice in a wet, muddy matchup.
"This game was super sloppy," Tampa Catholic coach Jeris McIntyre said. "I was glad we got the game in to see what we could do. But I think we have to get better."
The Crusaders, facing a Columbia defense led by Georgia commit Nazir Stackhouse, couldn’t get much going to start the game. The Crusaders were plagued by five bad snaps in the first half and several costly penalties. Quarterback Dylan McCain scored the Crusaders’ first touchdown when he plunged into the end zone on a 2-yard sneak, a drive set up by a fumble recovery.
“Conditions were rough and we had problems with the snaps and handling the ball,” McCain said. “Our defense kept us in it by forcing the turnovers.”
Columbia almost tied the score in the third quarter on a 70-yard touchdown pass, but Tampa Catholic defender DD Snyder broke up the Eagles’ pass attempt to thwart the two-point conversion.
In the fourth quarter, the offense found life when McCain completed a 56-yard touchdown pass to Jaime Smiley that sealed Tampa Catholic’s victory. Tampa Catholic opens the season next Friday at Naples Palmetto Ridge.