ZEPHYRHILLS — Land O'Lakes used an onslaught of first-half scoring to build a big lead over Zephyrhills then held on for a 36-21 win Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.
The Gators led 30-0 in the second quarter after touchdown runs of 39 and 26 yards by junior running back Wood Harrison. Senior quarterback Ryan Bird scored on a 9-yard keeper and threw a 16-yard score to Jordan Michelson, who later caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
The Bulldogs found an offensive spark to shift momentum in the second quarter from senior quarterback Jamal Roberts, who had scores of 52 and 2 yards before halftime. He added a 34-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter to make it 30-21.
Land O'Lakes coach Brian Wachtel said his team battled through the momentum swings to get the victory.
"We just kept fighting the entire game. You know, Zephyrhills is a good football team. There's no doubt about that. (Jamal Roberts) is electrifying, and he flat out can fly."
The Gators produced 301 yards of total offense. Bird went 9-of-17 for 167 yards and two scores. Harrison had 17 carries for 142 yards.
Wachtel said he likes the progress in Bird's development. "Ryan's doing good," he said. "You know, he's sitting in the pocket. He's trying to go through his reads, and he's continuing to build."
A mistake-plagued Zephyrhills had five turnovers and allowed eight sacks and a safety early in the first quarter.
Land O'Lakes played without star tight end Kent Taylor, who broke a bone in his hand last week. He will be evaluated over the next few weeks, Wachtel said.