WESLEY CHAPEL — With both Wiregrass Ranch and Tarpon Springs undefeated in Class 4A, District 6 coming into Friday night’s game, something had to give.
Bulls running back Nick Lomba didn’t let any nerves get in his way, carrying Wiregrass Ranch to a signature 20-16 win.
Spongers quarterback Louis Pappas had his team on track in the first quarter, throwing a 14-yard touchdown to Darius Daniels for an early 6-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Lomba broke free and weaved his way through the Tarpon defense for a 52-yard touchdown to tie the score.
Early in the second quarter Wiregrass Ranch quarterback James Tringali hooked up with Antwan Prince for a 25-yard score. Paul Forsey added the extra point and the Bulls (4-3, 3-0) had a 13-6 lead.
Just as it seemed Tringali was getting comfortable, Spongers defender Joel Hardy intercepted him on consecutive drives. But Tarpon could only manage a 21-yard field goal from Michael Hill to cut the Bulls’ lead to four at halftime.
The Spongers regained the lead briefly in the third after Pappas threw a 19-yard touchdown to Runaldo Wright. But the Bulls took it right back on Lomba’s 83-yard touchdown.
Tarpon continued to press in the fourth quarter but could not get the ball near the end zone.
The Bulls defense caused problems for the Spongers and with just under 30 seconds to play, Drake King intercepted a Pappas pass to seal the victory for Wiregrass Ranch.
“These kids bought into everything the coaches are trying to preach and we knew we were a great team,” Bulls coach Jeremy Shobe said.
Even with the loss, the Spongers (3-5, 2-1) are still in line for a playoff spot.
“It’s not over for us yet, we need to regroup and win our game next week,” coach Atif Austin said.