One week after notching a huge road win over Western, there was no letup for University School on Friday night.
Hosting an overflow crowd, the Sharks, ranked No. 10 in the Miami Herald’s Top 20 South Florida poll, sent their homecoming crowd home happy by defeating No. 18 Champagnat Catholic 26-13 at Auto Nation Field.
“The effort was good although I felt at times things were a little sluggish,” University coach Daniel Luque said. “I have to be honest, I was concerned going into this game because Champy is a talented team that goes on the road and smacks people all the time. It was going to take our best effort tonight to get this thing done, and we got it done.”
Leading by just six at the half, University opened things up in the second half thanks to a 10-play, 78-yard opening touchdown drive and a short touchdown drive following a Champagnat mistake.
For the second week in a row, it was Deion Small who came through for the offense. Small, who had the game-deciding touchdown pass over Western last week, took a jet sweep handoff on University’s opening second-half drive and turned into a 28-yard touchdown.
Small cut back in on the sweep, disappeared into a pile and somehow came out of it and sprinted to the end zone. When the Lions (3-2) bungled a punt on the next series, snapping it high over the punter’s head, the Sharks took over at the 10. Two plays later, Small took another inside handoff and bolted 9 yards to the end zone to make it 26-6 and pretty much end the issue.
“They [Champagnat] were talking a little smack this week out there and we just wanted to make sure we came out and took care of business,” said Small, who had five carries for 41 yards and five receptions. “We have a bye week next week and wanted to keep the momentum going from last week’s win.”
Said Luque: “Deion has been a lightning bolt for us the last few weeks. He’s a veteran player that’s out there making big plays for us, and that’s what we need.”
University got out in front first late in the first quarter thanks to a short field created by a Champagnat fumble. The Sharks took over at the Lions’ 34, and seven plays later, John Cannon drilled a 22-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
When the Lions (3-2) got pinned back at their own 2 on the ensuing series and were forced to punt into a strong wind, Champagnat head coach Hector Clavijo made an interesting decision and had his quarterback run out of the back of the end zone for a safety giving up two points for the chance to kick off from the 20.
University (4-1) increased its lead to 12-0 midway through the second quarter when the Sharks took advantage of another short field.
Taking over the Lions 40, quarterback Nick Vattiato had his team in the end zone in just four plays, hitting Fredrick Cage on a deep post for a 20-yard score on third-and-8 to make it 12-0.
Champagnat finally got its offense on track on the ensuing series by driving 55 yards in seven plays. The payoff came when Lions quarterback Ryle Aguila, on a third-and-13, scrambled 18 yards for a score that sliced the University lead in half at 12-6 just before halftime.