LAND O’LAKES — For 23 minutes Friday, Sunlake kept Pasco’s quick-strike offense bottled up.
With a minute to go before halftime, though, Pasco embarked on a 62-yard touchdown drive to take its first lead. That uncorked a 35-point second-half that Sunlake had no answer for.
Pasco played error-free after the break to defeat the Seahawks 49-10 to secure the Pirates’ fourth-straight district title.
“That first half, we came out so flat,” Pasco receiver Mike Clower said. “Imagine shaking up a soda for a year and trying to open it. All you hear is 'pfffft,’ nothing. We just came out flat. We knew we could do way better than that.”
Leading 14-10, Pasco (9-0, 7-0) took the second-half kickoff and marched 74 yards in seven plays, capped by David Emmanuel’s 1-yard plunge to go up by 11.
Trey Dudley-Giles’ interception on Sunlake’s next drive gave Pasco the ball back at the Seahawks’ 33. Pasco quarterback Jacob Guy (10-for-17, 272 yards, four touchdowns) hit Janarion Grant (six catches, 195 yards, four touchdowns) on a double move. With less than four minutes off the second-half clock, the Pirates had extended their lead to 28-10.
“We went into halftime and talked about not making mistakes,” Pasco coach Tom McHugh said. “I think we had one more in the second half. I’m proud of the way that they responded and knew what they had to do.”
Guy hit Grant for a 32-yard touchdown with 3:26 left in the third quarter and later found Clower for a 78-yard score in the same quarter.
Sunlake (7-2, 5-2) scored on the opening kickoff on Jamal Jones’ 87-yard return. Pasco tied the game late in the first quarter on a 41-yard run by Emmanuel (16 carries, 131 yards, two TDs).
Adrian Krupka had just enough distance on a 40-yard field goal try in the second quarter to give Sunlake a 10-7 lead. But after holding Pasco’s offense in check for much of the half, the Seahawks gave up that 62-yard drive, capped by Guy hitting Grant on a crossing route for a 29-yard touchdown with 43 seconds left.
“I think (that drive) switched the game,” McHugh said. “Sunlake was doing a great job, and we were kind of lackadaisical and flat. … You could look in their faces, and it was just different. The kids knew.”
Pasco allowed just 106 yards and held Seahawks dual-threat quarterback Jacob Jackson to negative rushing yards.
“He’s a weapon,” McHugh said. “If they’re going to put their eggs in his basket, my job as the defensive coordinator is to make them do something different ”