DADE CITY — For the first two quarters Friday, Pasco appeared headed toward another upset loss. The Pirates (2-1) mustered just 41 yards of offense, fumbled three times and didn’t record a first down in what coach Tom McHugh graded as an F-minus first-half performance.
But wide receiver Malik Johns made sure it didn’t stay that way. The senior scored three of his four touchdowns in the second half to lead Pasco to a 35-0 rout of Wesley Chapel (0-3).
“We just came out flat,” said Johns, who finished with 273 all-purpose yards. “I don’t think our heads were where they were supposed to be.”
Johns got Pasco off to a quick 8-0 lead by taking the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and adding a two-point conversion. Then came the early collapse.
“They just needed to go out and play better,” McHugh said. “And I challenged them to do that.”
The Pirates responded to McHugh with a complete turn-around in the second half.
Backup quarterback Grant Starling, who entered after starter Ben Chandler was shaken up, found Johns for a 58-yard touchdown strike on Pasco’s first possession of the third quarter. Johns ran one in from 12 yards on the next drive and added another TD on a 49-yard pass.