NEW PORT RICHEY — Land O’Lakes held back a furious comeback from Gulf, largely due to the play of running back Larenz Scroggins, to win 31-20 Friday night.
Land O’Lakes (5-0, 1-0) got things going quickly. James Pensyl found Liam Heaney from 4 yards out for the first score of the game. On the second drive, Scroggins ran in from 36 yards with less than a minute left in the first quarter.
After forcing a Gulf three and out, Javin Tandy returned a punt 55 yards, going sideline to sideline before eventually finding the end zone to begin the second quarter.
Gulf (0-4, 0-1) was able to get into Land O’Lakes territory twice before the half. Both drives ended with fumbles.
“We were put into some adverse situations today, no doubt about that” said Land O’Lakes coach Brian Wachtel, whose team gave up 20 points in the third quarter.
Things took a turn for the Gators when Tandy returned the second-half kickoff to the 30-yard line and fumbled. Gulf’s Mike Confer recovered and scored.
On Gulf’s first offensive drive of the second half, it ran the ball five times with Malik Cobb finishing with a 15-yard touchdown to cut the lead to eight.
After a Gators field goal, Gulf got down to the Land O’Lakes 6-yard thanks to a 73-yard run by Joey Nickerson. He later scored from 6 yards out.
But the night would belong to the Gators when Scroggins ran three times for 73 yards on the last scoring drive to put the game out of reach.
“Our biggest thing from this game was that we learned a lot of lessons,” Wachtel said.