Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UC Denied Three-Peat; Champagnat Thwarts Christians to Take 2A State Championship

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UC Denied Three-Peat; Champagnat Thwarts Christians to Take 2A State Championship

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Barney

ORLANDO | History will have to wait for University Christian.

The Christians' attempt at a program-first football three-peat ended with a 24-7 loss to Hialeah Champagnat Catholic in the Class 2A state championship game Friday morning at Camping World Stadium. UC (10-3) had pulled off back-to-back titles twice, winning in 1991-92, and 2015-16.

But the Christians couldn't reel in the elusive third straight crown, done in by the Lions' speed on both sides of the ball in a rematch of last year's title game.

"Our guys played hard, I'm proud of everything they've done, it was a heck of a run," said UC coach David Penland III. "They were faster than us. We just couldn't hold onto our blocks in the second half."

The Christians were simply overwhelmed by the quicker and stronger Lions, going 0 for 4 on fourth down, including twice on situations of a yard or less. UC still had a pulse in the fourth quarter of a 14-7 game, but saw the Lions convert a third-and-4, and then a 20-yard run by Desjuan Kearse on fourth. A 26-yard field goal on the drive put things out of reach.

UC, which hadn't lost a title game since 1990, is now 9-2 in state championship games under four different coaches - Penland, Robby Pruitt, John Street and George Davis.

UC had few answers for Champagnat's big play passing attack. The Lions (9-2) connected on passes of 41, 45 and 45 yards in the opening half, two of those setting up touchdowns and a 14-7 lead. But the difference was at the line of scrimmage, where Champagnat hemmed in mobile quarterback Clayton Boyd much of the game and kept yardage minimal in the second half.

The Lions sacked Boyd seven times, six of those after halftime.

"The figured out what we were going to do, we executed well, but they were just right there," said Boyd, who led UC with 94 yards rushing on 23 carries and passed for 114 yards. "We didn't beat ourselves, they beat us and they beat us fair and square. …

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