ST. PETERSBURG — All week, Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford worried about how to stop Northeast’s spread offense. As it turned out, the Vikings stopped themselves.
Northeast committed six turnovers, including three straight to start the game, and Pinellas Park rolled to a 35-14 win in a key Class 7A, District 9 game. The Patriots (5-2, 3-0) sit atop the district with a big game against Countryside on Friday. Northeast (5-3, 1-2) might still be alive for the second playoff spot pending a decision on whether the Cougars used an ineligible player in the first two district games.
Crawford said he wasn’t thinking about playoff implications.
“We have a short memory around here,” Crawford said. “It’s just how we play. Every game is the Super Bowl. We’re going to treat them like that. If we win we celebrate like we won the Super Bowl and then start again on Monday.”
Pierre Johnson ran the first play of the third quarter 65 yards down the left sideline for his second touchdown of the night to give the Patriots a 21-0 lead.
“It was huge,” said Johnson, who gained 108 yards on eight carries. “It gave us the momentum. The hole slanted to the left, so I just went that way and it was wide open.”
Northeast made the Patriots nervous after a Donterio Fowler’s 1-yard and 2-yard TD runs cut the lead to 21-14. But on the next Vikings possession, Will Palitto recovered a Davis fumble and ran it 48 yards to make it 28-14.
Pinellas Park swarmed on defense from the start. On Northeast’s fourth play from scrimmage, quarterback Ryan Davis fumbled a pitch and the Patriots recovered on the Vikings’ 42 yard line. The Patriots drove to the 1-yard line on nine plays and Garret Nevitt pounded in from a yard to make it 6-0. The extra point kick failed.
Northeast next possession was eight plays, but on third down Pinellas Park’s Jaquan Clark tipped another Davis pitch and recovered the fumble. That led to a 9-yard TD run from Johnson, who also ran the 2-point conversion in to make it 14-0.
The Patriots’ Josh Dallas intercepted Davis on the next drive but Pinellas Park was unable to capitalize and led 14-0 at the half.
Davis threw two more interceptions in the fourth quarter, one by Tyree Graves and one by Johnson. Kel-El Williams tacked on a late 33-yard touchdown run for Pinellas Park.
“It was bad from jump street,” Vikings coach Mike Jalazo said. “We’re not going to beat good teams ever by turning over the ball. It’s a shame because we had a lot of opportunities, we just couldn’t take care of the ball.”