How quickly can a showdown between two ranked teams from different classifications turn into a rout?
About 17 minutes was all third-ranked University High needed to dominate defending Class 1A state champion White Castle on Friday night. The Cubs (3-0) raced out to a 44-0 halftime lead and won, 57-14.
About the only thing that went wrong for Class 2A UHS in the opening half was 72 yards in penalties.
Coincidentally, 72 yards was also the tally on the first scrimmage play - Kyle Crifasi’s touchdown pass to Tristan Cooper less than 20 seconds into the game.
It was the second straight loss for sixth-ranked WCHS (1-2). The issues for the Bulldogs started with nine fumbles, including three they lost.
There was also an interception and a first-half injury that sidelined starting quarterback Isaac O’Bear.
All-state running back Tyre Bracken ran for 126 yards on 29 carries with two TDs. Much of that yardage came on a 74-yard TD run in the second half.
“No, I never expected anything like this,” UHS coach Chad Mahaffey said. “They have some issues with depth, and when the quarterback went out, it made a big difference.
“I still think that’s a team that will win a lot of games. We feel like we have a lot of guys who are capable of helping us. Tonight, everybody executed.”
Crifasi was one of four quarterbacks the Cubs used. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 146 yards with two TDs. Crifasi also ran for two TDs. Backup Nik Kragthorpe threw a 38-yard TD pass and ran for 45 yards, scoring another TD.
D’Vante Dotson had two TD catches. Cooper also had an interception and Nick Brossette ran for 51 yards as UHS outgained White Castle 414-153.
“That’s a team on the rise over there,” White Castle coach Ferrante Dominique said. “They played well.
“We’re a program that’s on a bit of decline. We only have seven seniors. The leadership is not there right now.”
That first play was indicative of things to come. Crifasi scrambled to avoid the rush and lofted the ball to Cooper. Two White Castle players closing in to make the tackle collided at midfield and Cooper breezed down the sideline.
Christian Garon kicked the first of five PATs, making it 7-0 with 11:40 left in the first quarter.
Two 15-yard UHS penalties help White Castle drive to its 42 on its first possession. A punt of minus-2 yards set up a 40-yard Cub drive that ended with Crifasi scoring on a 1-yard run with 6:13 left.
White Castle drove to the UHS 20 on its next drive, but Cooper intercepted an O’Bear pass in the end zone. A rapid-fire Cub drive ended with a 17-yard Crifasi-to-Dotson pass with 32 seconds to go in the first quarter.
The Cubs added 23 second-quarter points. The fact that White Castle lost first-half fumbles recovered by UHS’ Chisa Egbelu and Hayes Stewart didn’t help.
Garon had a 24-yard field goal that made it 24-0 at the 10:43 mark.
Next, the Bulldogs opted to go for it on fourth down at their own 23 and Bracken was tackled for loss. Three plays later, Crifasi scored on a 10-yard run, making it 31-0 with 7:36 left in the half.
University’s other quarterback, Kragthorpe, got in the action next, hitting Dotson with a 38-yard TD pass at the 5:16 mark. The onslaught ended with Hunter Smithburg scoring on an 11-yard run.
Bracken’s 74-yard TD run provided the lone scoring of the third quarter. He added an 8-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Two more U-High scores - a 5-yard run by Kragthorpe and a 1-yard run by Jake Alexander - completed the offense.