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GULFPORT — A stingy defense and strong rushing attack guided Pinellas Park on Friday night as they pulled away from host Boca Ciega in the second half to win 27-6.
The score was tied 6-6 at halftime. Patriots running back Jeremi Powell had a 12-yard score, and Fortune Gamble ran 20 yards to tie the score for the Pirates. Each team missed the extra point.
Pinellas Park, of Class 7A, took the lead again in the third quarter after getting the ball on the Pirates 46.
The Patriots (5-1) drove the ball down the field in six plays, ending with a 10-yard touchdown run by Marquis Samuel.
Early in the fourth quarter, Powell found the end zone again on a 13-yard run that put Pinellas Park ahead 20-6 after the 2-point conversion run by Ivan Carrasco.
Powell had 115 yards on nine carries to go along with his pair of scores.
The Patriots held Boca Ciega (2-4) to just 80 yards on the ground and were just as tough defending the pass.
Pinellas Park’s Kha’zorey Blackshear intercepted Pirates quarterback Bobby Runcie twice, including a pick late in the fourth quarter that set up Brandon Hames’ 13-yard scoring pass to Tyree Graves.
Pierre Johnson also had a pick late in the game, ending 6A Boca Ciega’s final possession.
Patriots coach Kenny Crawford credited his team for playing as a unit and working well within a system that doesn’t feature any one player.
“I’m just proud of the kids for being unselfish football players,” Crawford said. “Whoever it is, they play as hard they can.”
The Patriots extended their winning streak to four and denied Boca Ciega a chance to earn consecutive victories for the first time this season.