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LAND O’LAKES — Now that the exhibition games are out of the way, the real season begins for Land O’Lakes.
The Gators rolled to their sixth victory Friday night, pummeling Wesley Chapel 49-3. After beating their first six opponents by an average margin of nearly 39 points, the Gators finally get a challenge in six days when they host undefeated Pasco.
“Now that the Pasco game’s finally here, it’s all worth it,” Land O’Lakes quarterback Stevie Weatherford said. “I’m excited.”
First things first, the Gators had to get by Wesley Chapel.
Land O’Lakes (6-0, 4-0) scored on its opening three drives and held the Wildcats to 23 yards of offense in the first half to end any doubt by halftime.
Weatherford, who finished 15-for-23 for 333 yards and four touchdowns passing, completed six passes of 20 yards or more. In fact, it seemed every time Weatherford went back to throw deep, a Gators receiver was streaking open down the field to haul in the perfectly-thrown ball
“I’m confident every time I throw a ball, I’m thinking it’s never going to get picked off,” Weatherford said. “If it’s a bad ball, I know my receivers are going to make a play on it. A guy almost picked a ball off in the middle of the field, and one of my receivers ripped it out of his hands. So, I’m not worried about it.”
After Wesley Chapel (2-5, 0-4) failed to recover an onside kick to open the game, the Gators drove 48 yards in seven plays, capped by Weatherford’s 1-yard rollout run into the end zone.
A partially blocked punt gave the ball back to the Gators on the Wildcats’ 29-yard line. Four plays later, Harrison Wood bulled his way into the end zone from 2 yards out. Ryan Lane had a 2-yard touchdown run on the Gators’ third drive. That score was set up by a 50-yard pass from Weatherford to Billy Irwin (5 catches, 178 yards).
“We kind of pulled through in the run game after struggling for a while,” Weatherford said. “Tonight, I felt like we got it going and go into next week confident.”
Weatherford hit Irwin on a 38-yard go route to make it 28-0 Gators in the second quarter. Right before the half, Weatherford connected with Irwin again, this time from 63 yards away, to put the Gators up 35-3 at halftime.
Wesley Chapel’s Cody Hodgens hit a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter to account for the Wildcats’ only points.
Weatherford threw two touchdown passes to Jason Tello (7 catches, 93 yards) after halftime.
The Gators defense held Wesley Chapel to 83 yards of total offense and fewer than 2 yards a carry (37 rushes, 73 yards).