ORLANDO ó Wiregrass Ranch used a solid running attack while forcing seven Lake Nona turnovers in a 17-10 Class 7A region quarterfinal victory Friday night.
The Bullsí Adrian Thomas had 31 carries for 190 yards and a touchdown. Penn State commit Jordan Miner had 69 yards rushing and a touchdown. Miner also was stout on defense, intercepting Lions quarterback Michael Kern twice.
"Adrianís done that all year running the ball," Wiregrass Ranch head coach Mark Kantor said.
Wiregrass Ranch (9-2) was set up on the Lions 44 in the third quarter with a chance to take full control, but Lake Nona (7-4) came up with a goal-line stand, stopping Miner on a pitch for an 8-yard loss.
On the Lionsí next drive, Miner picked off Kern and returned it to the Lake Nona 36. The Bulls failed to take advantage.
The Lions moved the ball 74 yards to the Bulls 10, but Wiregrass Ranch held firm. Kern had 66 yards passing on the drive.
In the fourth, Kai Casey booted a 21-yard field goal for Lake Nona to cut the Bullsí lead to 17-10.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Lions recovered the onside kick at the Bulls 47. But once again, Wiregrass Ranch held as the Lions lost 3 yards on the drive.
The Bulls had another chance to put it away, but Mason Buie fumbled at the Lake Nona 29, giving the Lions one more shot. But Wiregrass Ranch came up with two big sacks for a loss of 14 yards. Dylan Ridolph recorded the first, and Devaun Roberts and Miguel Hernandez assisted on the second. A last Kern pass was incomplete.
The Lions struck the first blow when Moises Aracena scored on a 2-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead. The score was set up by the Bullsí gutsy fourth-and-2 attempt on their 9 that failed.
Trailing 7-3, Kwesi Littlejohn made a huge pick for the Bulls, setting them up at the Lake Nona 15. Two plays later, Thomas ran it in from 1 yard out for a 10-7 lead with 3:26 remaining in the half. With 1:09 remaining after another failed Lions drive, Miner added another 50-yard touchdown gallop down the sideline off a toss pitch to give Wiregrass Ranch a 17-7 cushion.
Hayden Willis booted two extra points and a 24-yard field goal for the Bulls. Coming into the game, Kern was the top passer statistically in the state, but the Bulls held him to 13-of-27 for 255 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Kern passed for most of his yardage on short screen passes while the Bulls put a clamp on his longer passes.
"We do have to execute better when our defense gives us the ball," Kantor said.