PINELLAS PARK — Boca Ciega used a late interception return for touchdown by senior Denzal Dillard to pull off the 21-14 upset over Pinellas Park and earn the Pirates their first win Friday.
"I saw the back come out of the backfield," Dillard said. "I dropped to my depth, and just saw the ball coming, so I went for it. Players make plays, and that's what I did."
The Pirates (1-5) took control of the first half and were not fazed by a 31-yard touchdown from Patriots (4-2) running back Pierre Johnson. They stormed right back down the field to tie things up on an 18-yard touchdown run from junior Jaire Balloon.
Pinellas Park's turnover troubles began on the next possession. On a first-down play, the Patriots fumbled from the 22-yard line back to the end zone, where it was recovered by Boca Ciega to make the score 14-7. The Pirates took that lead into halftime.
The Patriots got a score from running back Tahrelle Mosley in the third quarter on a drive that lasted more than 10 minutes.
"That was a typical Pinellas Park second-half drive," Bogie coach Antez Brinson said. "I told my kids that this is a good football team, and they should expect them to adjust at the half. I expected them to try and grind it out in the third quarter. We were able to keep our composure, and not let that score demoralize us."
Mosley and Johnson led the way with 16 carries combined, but were just two of a handful of backs to get a carry for Pinellas Park. Despite 230 rushing yards, the Patriots were unable to reach the end zone again.
The fourth quarter was back and forth, featuring five punts and what turned out to be a crucial missed field goal from Pinellas Park. With less than two minutes to go, the Patriots started a drive from their own 37. On the first play, quarterback Taron Williams threw the interception to Dillard. The Patriots used a pair of timeouts to get the ball back twice after that, but both possessions ended in an interception.
"We were able to come out and do something that we all have believed we've been able to do the last six weeks," Brinson said, "I'm proud of my kids, I'm proud of my coaches, and this is hopefully something that will start a trend going into the last half of the season. We want to win every game that we play from this point on."