Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Football: Pasco 24, Zephyrhills 16

ZEPHYRHILLS — Zephyrhills had the ball — but not the lead — with just a little more than a minute left in Friday's game. Pasco players on the sideline clustered together, hunching forward.

"This is our last play," one of them repeated a few times. "Just this."

The Bulldogs turned the ball over on a fourth down a few seconds later, and the Pirates started to cheer.

Pasco's disappointing season suddenly turned around with a 24-16 to triumph in the 9-Mile War. The victory gives the Pirates the runnerup spot in Class 5A, District 6 — and sends them to the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year.

"I've got nothing but pride," said coach Tom McHugh, who has been with the team since 2007. "We've faced a lot of adversity this year."

Many people wrote off the team after early losses against Sunlake and Nature Coast. McHugh said players made mistakes in those games that they aren't making now, and it's a different team going into the postseason.

Pasco (6-3, 4-2) will play its first-round game at North Marion on Nov. 15.

Defense was key against the Bulldogs (7-2, 4-2), McHugh said. Malik Johns agreed, saying the unit pulled together to stop a critical Zephyrhills rushing game.

"We came together as a family and got it done," Johns said.

Johns had a 61-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, sealing Pasco's win. The senior has scored 15 touchdowns this season.

"We ride him," McHugh said of Johns. "If he doesn't have a good game, we don't have a good game."

The Pirates never let the Bulldogs take the lead. Pasco scored the first touchdown by recovering a fumble in Zephyrhills' end zone. The Bulldogs tied the score at the end of the first quarter with a touchdown rush by Jaylen Pickett.

The next scoring play was a 52-yard TD reception by Nate Craig, and the Pirates finished the half with the lead.

Penalties marred the second half for both sides, but Pasco kept the lead. The Pirates' Johnathan Coats kicked a 47-yard field goal, capping the second half's first series of rushing drives.

Zephyrhills' Devon Brockington rushed 50 yards early in the third quarter to place the Bulldogs 26 yards from the end zone. It took four more drives, and Antwione Sims rushed the final 7 yards for the score. A safety on the next play drew the Bulldogs within one point of a tie.

Johns' 61-yard touchdown rush with 5:04 to play dampened hopes that the Bulldogs would be able to catch up in time for the win.

Going into the game, Zephyrhills was favored to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The Bulldogs' only loss before the 9-Mile War was to district champion South Sumter early in the season.

"We didn't play our game tonight," Zephyrhills coach Reggie Roberts said. "Missed blocks, missed tackles."

He shook his head and looked back at his team.

"We didn't get it done," he said. "We didn't get it done."

Football: Pasco 24, Zephyrhills 16 11/01/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 11:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.
  2. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand

    Bucs

    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Kevin Cash: 'We've got to turn it around. ... Time is of the essence'

    Blogs

    The question to manager Kevin Cash was about a rematch with the Mariners this weekend at the Trop, but he made clear this afternoon that with his Rays losing nine of their last 12 that they have to treat every game as essential.

    "We've got to start playing good baseball games whether we match up well against that team or not," Kevin Cash said.
  5. Lightning wing J.T. Brown on why he donated to remove Confederate statue

    Blogs

    Lightning wing J.T. Brown was back in his Minneapolis offseason home over the weekend when he saw on TV the violent protests in Charlottesville over the removal of a Confederate statue.

    J.T. Brown decided to get involved, donating $1,500 to assist in removing a Confederate statue in Tampa.