EAST LAKE — When East Lake’s Ian Cronin galloped through a gaping hole untouched before shedding three Tarpon Springs defenders to reach the ball over the goal line, it was not the most significant or scintillating play in the county’s biggest rivalry game of the year.
But Cronin’s 48-yard touchdown could not have better typified the type of season it has been for the Eagles, nor better illustrated how dominant they have become in what has been a one-sided rivalry lately.
With shocking ease, East Lake rolled to a 49-6 victory over the Spongers on Friday night, the last score coming on Cronin’s run in which a running clock was used. The Eagles (5-0) continued their best start in school history and have outscored opponents a combined 229-22.
East Lake also won its fifth straight in this rivalry, the longest in school history, and by the widest margin ever.
“This is always a big game, and our guys get fired up for it,” Eagles coach Bob Hudson said. “We’re playing really well as a group right now.”
The dominance started from the opening kickoff, which East Lake’s Artavis Scott returned 37 yards to give his team good field position.
The Eagles went on eight-play, 57-yard drive that was capped off by Scott’s 10-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.
On its next possession, East Lake scored again, this time on a 40-yard pass from Jake Hudson to George Campbell to go ahead 14-0.
The only tense moment for the Eagles came on their third possession when Hudson was picked off by linebacker Eric Kehoe. Hudson hobbled off and did not return after getting hit in the thigh on the play.
The Spongers (3-2) capitalized on the turnover, scoring on Michael Ford’s 4-yard run. The extra point, though, was blocked.
Any momentum Tarpon Springs had was lost when Brandon Swift relieved Hudson and went 3-for-4 on a drive that ended with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Scott to make it 21-6 at the half.
“It felt good to get the passing game going,” Scott said. “I came out a little shaky, but I knew I had to step it up to help out our quarterback.”
In the second half, East Lake poured it on. Scott and Weston Fordham each ran for touchdowns. Carson Lydon blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.
So dominant were the Eagles, they outgained the Spongers 410-132 and did not have to punt.
“We were all motivated because it’s a big game and a rival,” Scott said. “But nothing is coming easy for us. We’re working for everything and putting in the effort and it shows.”
Campbell had his best game as a receiver this season, finishing with six receptions for 123 yards. Fordham had 98 yards rushing and a touchdown. And Scott had 64 yards rushing, 27 receiving and three scores.