FORT PIERCE — Friday night was a tale of two halves for John Carroll Catholic’s football team.
Coming off a bye week, the Rams weren’t firing on all cylinders in a must-win game to push forward with their state playoff run in a first half where they scored only seven points.
A second half surge helped John Carroll ensure their berth into a regional final as big plays in all three phases of the game in the second half led to a 31-point second half and a 38-7 victory over Cardinal Mooney in a Region 3-1S semifinal.
Senior kicker Wyatt Dempsey put the Rams (9-1) on top 10-7 with a 36-yard field goal early in the third quarter and two plays later, senior Anthony Ferraro took an interception back 43 yards for a touchdown to immediately give John Carroll breathing room the rest of the way.
“I can’t compliment our defense enough, they kept us in that game in the first half,” Rams head coach Mickey Groody said. “I give credit to Cardinal Mooney, they came out and did some different things that we had planned for which happens when you get a bye week — I was happy when we came out in the second half with the adjustments we made on offense and our defense did a good job keeping their foot on the gas.”
Cardinal Mooney’s Griffin Gisotti intercepted a pass from John Carroll quarterback Dawson Maehl at the end of the first half to keep the Cougars a shot to score the upset on the road.
However, the Ram offense sprung to life as Maehl threw second half touchdown passes to RJ Jones and Aidan Singleton, who had a monster night all over the field.
After the Cougars (4-7) took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter thanks to a 40-yard touchdown pass from Johnny Antonucci to Cooper Flerlage, Singleton answered back taking a short pass to the sideline from Maehl and made two Cardinal Mooney defenders miss and the senior ran 36 yards into the endzone to tie the game.
Singleton bookended the scoring on the night for John Carroll, taking another short pass from Maehl and eluded multiple defenders for a 62-yard score and would later add an interception on defense.
“He’s a playmaker on both sides of the ball,” Groody said about his star senior. “They actually tested him on the defensive side of the ball which we haven’t seen in a while so it was good to see he hasn’t lost a step there.”
Junior running back Tony Colebrook got in on the act for the Rams, racing for a 52-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and finished the night with 134 yards on the night.
Maehl finished the night with 249 passing yards for John Carroll, who will host Lakeland Christian, who narrowly defeated Victory Christian 16-15 in their regional semifinal, for a trip to the 1S state semifinals.