Crystal River fullback Eric Lockley, the fourth-leading rusher on the North Suncoast with 631 yards entering Friday night's action, was limited to 24 yards on 13 carries. But the senior scored on a 1-yard dive in the first period and the Pirates were able to hang on for a 10-3 homecoming win over Gulf.
"Offensively, we played very poorly tonight and (Gulf) played very good defense," Crystal River coach Earl Bramlett said. "They whipped us up front.
"We knew they could run the ball as they're very sound fundamentally. We gave up 13-, 14- and 15-yard plays and hoped they wouldn't get into the end zone."
Gulf (3-5) had a golden scoring opportunity late in the second period after beginning a possession from its 3-yard line. The Buccaneers moved to the Pirate 21, but a fourth-and-9 reverse by Leo Martir gained just 6 yards and Crystal River took over at the 15 with 48 seconds left.
The lone score of the first half was set up after a snap sailed over the head of Gulf punter Hector Acuna and was recovered at the Buccaneer 12 by Pirates safety Terrell Rucker. Crystal River (6-2) lost one yard on two runs by Lockley before Anthony Cooks slipped around right end and reached the Buccaneer 1, where he stepped out of bounds. Lockley bulled into the end zone on the next play and Joe Buccheri tacked on the extra point to give the Pirates a 7-0 lead with 3:31 to go in the first quarter.