The St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders routed the Dillard Panthers 51-0 in a preseason kickoff classic at Otis Gray Jr. Memorial Stadium on Thursday night. St. Thomas Aquinas are the defending two-time FHSAA Class 7A state champions.
The Raiders dominated in the first half as they scored on their first three offensive possessions. On their first drive, quarterback Jake Allen threw a dump pass to the right side where running back Mike Epstein scored from two yards away four minutes into the contest.
Dillard fumbled the ball on their first play on offense. Kicker Marco Salani nailed a 24-yard field goal at 5:40 for a Raiders 10-0 lead. The Panthers passed the ball on a third down during their next possession and it was intercepted by cornerback Asante Samuel for a 28-yard touchdown return to give STA a 17-point margin. St. Thomas Aquinas made it 24-0 with 1:26 left in the first quarter as Allen found a wide open wide receiver Mike Harley in the slot area for a 39-yard touchdown catch on the second play of the drive.
The Panthers held the Raiders off the scoreboard for most of the second quarter. That would change when linebacker Anthony Solomon intercepted a pass at his own 33-yard line. Running back Kyshaun Bryan followed with a 43-yard run down the left side to the Dillard 25. Several plays later, Allen connected a 14-yard touchdown pass up the right hash marks to Trevon Grimes with 3:33 left in the second.
St. Thomas Aquinas increased their lead to 38-0 as running back Daniel Carter caught a 40-yard screen pass from backup quarterback Beau Fellchio on the left side for a score with 10 seconds remaining in the first half. There was no scoring by either school during the third quarter.