Fast start for No. 2 TCA football results in first loss for No. 6 The Academy

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

COLORADO SPRINGS — In three touches, Cade Palmer helped The Classical Academy run away with another win. The Classical Academy junior found the end zone on his first three carries of the game, all of them from at least 27 yards out as the Class 3A No. 2 Titans rolled to a 41-12 win over No. 6 The Academy.

It was the first loss of the year for the Wildcats, but considering the way the game started there should be no hanging heads going into next week's game against Faith Christian.

"Kudos to them," TCA coach Justin Rich said. "They fought really hard in the second half and we needed to play a four-quarter game."

In no time at all, the Titans (3-0 overall, 3-0 3A East) were up 21-0. That came as Palmer ran for touchdowns of 50, 27 and 33 yards, all of which came in the first quarter.

Two more rushing touchdowns in the second quarter pushed the lead to 35-0, providing the fast start that the Titans are hoping to see each week through the remainder of the season.

"It's really good to come out to a quick start," Palmer said. "The offensive line was dominating in the first quarter and a half, and even into the second half. It's important to have that fast start."

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

The Wildcats (3-1, 3-1) struggled to move the ball against the Titans' physical defensive front but kept chipping away. Quarterback Isaiah Eliot connected on a few passes and made some tough runs before taking a hard hit in the second quarter that ultimately took him out of the game.

Forced to adjust, the Wildcats moved to a double-wing style formation and drove into the red zone where they punched the ball in on the last play of the first half.

That offensive set continued to give the Titans fits in the second half. The Wildcats gained yards and chewed up clock to find something that worked. If they hadn't been in a deep hole, it could've been an equalizer if sustained for four quarters.

"That double-wing formation, we didn't have the time to work on that," Rich said. "They were down one of the best players on the field in (Gabriel Espinosa) who has to be leading the state in receptions, he didn't play the second half on offense. And if (Eliot) was going to run the ball, it's going to be hard to run it that often."

Coming into the game, Espinosa had 23 receptions for 283 yards and two touchdowns. But the Titans were fast and aggressive on defense which neutralized The Academy's typical offensive flow.

The Titans scored their lone touchdown of the half on a pass to Aden Timson, but it was the fast start that allowed them to settle in and play their game.

"Every game we come out quick with a lot of energy, it catches teams off guard," Palmer said. "It takes a ton of pressure off your defense if you're up 21 points in five minutes."

The Titans finish their regular season schedule on the road as they head to Kent Denver next week and Denver West on April 22.

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)