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Verot drops home opener to Jesuit

By CJ HADDAD - | Sep 5, 2020

Verot huddles up before a play Friday night. CJ HADDAD

Bishop Verot came up empty-handed in their season opening matchup against a tough Jesuit (Tampa) squad 28-21.

A quick start by the Tigers (1-0) put the Vikings (0-1) on their heels from the get go. Bishop Verot was down 15-0 in the first quarter and 22-0 early on in the second.

Jesuit advanced to the state semifinals last season while Verot had an impressive 2019 campaign as well, making it to their regional final.

Verot eventually got things going in the second quarter and out-scored Jesuit in the second half but could not overcome the deficit.

“We just left too much out there tonight,” said Verot head coach John Mohring. “I don’t want to make excuses — we just played sloppy. That’s not how we coach or practice. But I’m proud of how our guys bounced back in the second half, that’s that football team that I think that we have.”

On the opening drive of the game, Viking senior quarterback Jacob Azizi threw an interception to give Jesuit great field position to start their first offensive series.

A team that pounded the ball last year all of a sudden spread out, which came as a surprise to the Verot defense. Jadyn Girard corralled a pass from Peter Pesansky and took it 22 yards into the end zone. A successful 2-point conversion gave the Tigers an 8-0 early advantage.

Verot went three-and-out on their next possession and Jesuit capitalized. This time Joquez Smith pounded the rock across the goal line from 1-yard out to give the road team a 15-0 lead.

Sloppy tackling was the name of the game for the Vikings early on, and their opponent made them pay.

Jesuit’s Michael Leonardo hauled in a 7-yard touchdown less than 3 minutes into the second quarter, giving the Tigers a 22-point advantage before Verot could blink.

“We tackled very poorly tonight,” Mohring said. “I’m a defensive guy, so giving up 28 points — I don’t care how we gave them up — does not sit well with me.”

Despite the slow start, the Vikings No. 1 playmaker showed up in a huge way for his team. Senior wide receiver and University of Miami commit Malik Curtis scored the first of his three touchdowns in response to 22-straight points from the opponent.

Curtis shot towards Azizi off of the snap, took a short pass and turned on the jets, going 77 yards to the house.

Just before the half, a reverse that ended up in the hands of Curtis went 50 yards to a touchdown to bring the Vikings within one score.

“Malik was Malik,” Mohring said. “I said all week that our key to winning was to get the ball to Malik Curtis, and we did that. He was electric out there tonight. He’s an amazing kid — works hard at practice and it shows. We just have to get more guys to raise their level to his.”

Jesuit scored on the opening drive of the half on a broken play when the Tigers’ quarterback fumbled the snap, recovered and hit Girard for a 51-yard touchdown. That was the Tigers’ final score of the night.

Curtis notched his third touchdown of the game with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter, connecting with Azizi for a 31-yard score. Verot could not find the end zone again before time ran out.

“I think our guys feel a little bit of humility tonight, and we’re ready to work on Monday,” Mohring said. “We’ll be OK. We’ll watch film, get the mistakes fixed and bring a better brand of football for next week.”

Bishop Verot will travel to American Heritage (Delray Beach) next for a non-conference game.

–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 F

Jesuit Tampa 15 7 6 0 28

Bishop Verot 0 13 0 8 21

1st Quarter

TJ- Jadyn Girard 22-yard reception from Peter Pesansky (2-pt good) 8:45

TJ- Joquez Smith 1-yard run (Ty Canada kick good) 5:15

2nd Quarter

TJ- Michael Leonardo 7-yard reception from Pesansky (Canada kick) 9:31

BV- Malik Curtis 77-yard reception from Jacob Azizi (Deglan Camron kick good) 8:27

BV- Curtis 50-yard run (kick fail) 1:15

3rd Quarter

TJ- Girard 51-yard reception from Pesansky (2-pt fail) 11:00

4th Quarter

BV- Curtis 31-yard reception from Azizi (2-pt good) 6:08