ZEPHYRHILLS — Friday night’s 9-Mile War quickly turned into a one-sided slaughter.
Pasco’s offense and defense dominated Zephyrhills in a 45-0 victory that clinched the Pirates’ Class 5A, District 6 title and capped off their second straight perfect regular season. It also eliminated the Bulldogs’ playoff chances.
“It means everything for us,” Pirates quarterback Jacob Guy said after a 13-of-15 performance.
The Pirates (10-0, 7-0) rolled from the start. David Emmanuel’s 7-yard touchdown run on the first drive gave Pasco the lead for good.
After the defense forced a three and out, Emmanuel found a hole and rushed 48 yards for another score.
“They jumped on us early,” Zephyrhills coach Reggie Roberts said.
And often. The Pirates scored on all but one of their first-half possessions, adding a 30-yard field goal by David Navarro, a 28-yard rush by Janarion Grant and a 41-yard bomb from Guy to Grant.
Pasco’s high-powered offense saw its streak of seven consecutive games with at least 50 points snapped, but its suffocating defense made up for it.
Zephyrhills (5-4, 5-2) lost 5 yards on 33 rushing attempts and was sacked four times. Quarterback Jamal Roberts, who entered the game as one of the county’s leading rushers, finished with minus-30 yards.
“Everybody had an assignment, and everybody did it,” Pasco coach Tom McHugh said after being carted off the field on his linemen’s shoulders. “They did an excellent job.”
The Pirates’ defense got in on the scoring, too.
Aryn Strickland sacked Roberts, knocking the ball loose in the fourth quarter. Malik Johns returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. On the next drive, a Pasco sack forced another fumble, which Michael Larry took 74 yards for a score.
“The whole time they’re at Pasco High School, they’re trained to do that,” McHugh said. “Scoop and score.”
Pasco has a bye next week before starting its playoff run, and expect the Pirates to focus on stopping penalties. Two of Zephyrhills’ six first downs came from Pasco infractions, and the Pirates were flagged for eight 15-yard fouls.
Division I-A recruit Trey Dudley-Giles was ejected from the game after two unsportsmanlike conduct calls. He was flagged in the first half for running onto Zephyrhills’ sideline to pull out Grant and again in the fourth quarter for high-stepping into the end zone on a 53-yard punt return for a touchdown. That score was brought back because of another Pasco penalty.
“These penalties, they need to stop,” Guy said.