Holy Cross never forgot its loss to Shaw last year.
After losing its first nine games since rejoining District 9-5A in 2013, Shaw beat Holy Cross last season 27-21 to finally get a Catholic League win under its belt, and the Tigers waited a year to get their revenge.
The Tigers (3-1, 1-0) did that and then some as they cruised to a dominant 38-22 win over Shaw in each team’s Catholic League opener at Hoss Memtsas Stadium on Saturday night.
“We had some animosity going into this game, because last year they kind of put it on us,” said Holy Cross running back Tre Turner, an Arizona State commitment. “We just wanted to come out, get a win, and get off to a good start in Catholic League.”
Turner made his presence felt early in Saturday’s game, scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run on the Tigers’ first possession and a 14-yard swing pass on their next possession to give Holy Cross a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Shaw got its first points after marching 77 yards in eight plays, capping it off with a 12-yard touchdown run by Matt Keller. After Holy Cross kicked a field goal, Shaw running back Trey Ragas broke a 46-yard run to put himself in a position for a 13-yard touchdown run two plays later that cut the Tigers’ lead to 17-14.
But the Holy Cross offense responded by patiently going on an 11-play, 71-yard drive that ended with Chandler Fields scoring on a quarterback sneak from 1 yard out to put Holy Cross ahead 24-14 at halftime.
Turner was forced to miss the first two games with a shoulder injury, but after a 119-yard performance in his debut last week against Chalmette, the senior followed it up with 25 touches for 149 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s win.
“We wanted to make sure he was fresh as possible for district,” Rebaudo said about Turner. “Once he started looking like his old self tonight, we just let him go.”
Holy Cross got the ball to start the second half and took control. The Tigers marched 70 yards in 14 plays before Fields found Darius Rodrigue for a 16-yard touchdown.
The Tigers forced Shaw into a three-and-out on its next possession and, two plays into their second possession of the half, Tigers running back Ashton Smith sprinted 63 yards for a touchdown to increase the Holy Cross lead to 38-14.
“Anytime you play anybody in the Catholic League and get a win its huge,” Holy Cross coach Eric Rebaudo said. “Wins in this league don’t come very easily.”
Ragas had no problem gaining yards on the Holy Cross defense when given the opportunity — amassing 200 total yards and two touchdowns on 24 touches — but Holy Cross dominated the time-of-possession battle and prevented the Eagles (2-2, 0-1) from gaining an offensive rhythm.
“They converted a lot of third downs. That was our biggest issue of the game,” Shaw coach Scott Bairnsfather said. “We played well on first and second down, and we played lousy on third down. They continued to move the chains, and that’s how they controlled the game.”