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December 7, 2013

Trinity explodes in second half to put away CCC

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ORLANDO - Facing a scoreless tie at halftime, the Trinity Christian Conquerors opened the floodgates with 27 points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter, using that run to coast to a 34-7 victory over the Clearwater Central Catholic Marauders in the FHSAA Class 3A Finals on Saturday afternoon. The victory gives Trinity Christian its fourth state championship in school history, as the Conquerors have won their first title since 2010.

The Conquerors (12-1) and Marauders (11-3) each had opportunities to score in the first half, but neither team could finish its drives in opposing territory. On first-and-10 from the Conqueror 38, Marauder quarterback Jeff Smith had a snap sail over his head for what turned into a 20-yard loss, negating a potential scoring threat. On the other side, Trinity Christian moved the ball inside the red zone midway through the second quarter, but ended up turning the ball over on downs when Jacquez Riles' pass to Jeff Holland fell incomplete.

As a result, the teams headed into their respective locker rooms without a point. After halftime the Conquerors emerged from the locker room and drew first blood in less than a minute, as Isaiah Ford took a quarterback keeper around the left corner and sprinted to the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown and the game's first points.

PHOTO GALLERY: Trinity 34, CCC 7
On the Marauders' ensuing possession, Trinity Christian linebacker Victor Alexander stepped in front of Smith's pass, and his interception set up the Conqueror offense with a short field. On the very next play, Riles hit Chris Barr over the middle for a 14-yard touchdown, putting the Conquerors ahead by a 14-0 margin.

After another defensive stop, Trinity Christian needed just three plays to find the end zone yet again. Lining up at quarterback, Ford took a shotgun snap and headed left, beating the Clearwater Central Catholic defenders to the corner for a four-yard touchdown run. Ford's second score gave the Conquerors a 20-0 lead.

The Marauders were able to advance into Conqueror territory on their next drive. But as Smith scrambled out of the pocket, Trinity Christian defensive back David Crowley chased him down and forced a fumble that was picked up by fellow defender Deontai Williams. Williams sprinted untouched to the house for a 63-yard return, giving his team a 27-0 edge with 5:41 remaining in the third quarter.

At this point, Trinity Christian switched to more of a ball-control approach on offense. As the team's traded possessions into the fourth quarter, Clearwater Central Catholic was able to get on the board, as fullback Conner Dorris took it in from two yards out. But on the Conquerors' next drive, sophomore running back Jalin Buie took a Ford handoff, broke through the second level and went 53 yards for the game's final score.

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