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LAND O’LAKES — Even without tight end Kent Taylor and starting quarterback Ryan Bird, Land O’Lakes was able to exhibit its premier offensive players against Central.
The Gators dominated the visiting Bears in a 52-3 victory Friday night to celebrate homecoming.
Taylor was serving a one-game suspension, and starting quarterback Bird sat out with a separated shoulder, leaving the duties under center to freshman Ethan Weilant.
Weilant impressed in his first varsity start, opening the scoring with a 56-yard touchdown to Wesley Moore in the first quarter. He started the game with five completions in his first five attempts for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
Land O’Lakes tailback Harrison Wood got in on the act as well early. His 4-yard run made it 14-0, more than enough scoring for the Gators.
Two big negatives happened Friday night for the Gators (5-3) despite the big victory. Land O’Lakes learned that it would miss the state playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons thanks to a Sunlake win, and linebacker Shadow Williams was added to the injury list with a left ankle strain.
A 23-yard field goal from Brandon Miller in the fourth quarter was the only thing that stood between the Gators and a shutout over Central (0-9). The points ended a 13-quarter scoring drought for the Bears.