Springstead beat Pasco for the first time Saturday with a 28-17 victory in game delayed by Friday's heavy rains. Although it was a non-district game, Eagles coach Pat McCoy said it was still significant to his team.
"(Pasco) is the only team around here that has a sign that says "state championship" on it," McCoy said. "They're the traditional powerhouse in the area. Any time you can get a win against them, it's an accomplishment."
The loss was the first at home for Pirates second-year coach Ricky Thomas. Pasco faces a tough challenge against Hernando next Friday for a possible district playoff berth. "If we play like this on Friday, we'll lose 99-0," Thomas said.
Springstead (6-2) pounded the ball 62 times for 374 yards on the ground. The one-two combination of speedy running back Anthony Owens (25 carries for 205 yards) and powerful fullback Ryan Angelo (33 for 154) proved too much for the interior defense of the Pirates.
Midway through the first quarter, two big runs by Owens helped take the Eagles from their own 11 deep into Pirates' territory. On second and 8 from the 29, Eagles quarterback Tim Maher found Huey Whittaker streaking down the left sideline for the score.
In the second quarter, Springstead again mounted a long drive starting at its own 11. This one featured strong inside running by Angelo, culminating in his 1-yard touchdown plunge. Owens scored untouched off left tackle for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.
Pasco (6-2) had some early success running the ball as Norman Graham reeled off runs of 28 and 25 yards in the first half, but two drives stalled near midfield. The Pirates finally got on the board when Breon Davis took it in from the 1 on fourth and goal with 7:33 to go in the second quarter. A 40-yard field goal by Pasco's Joey Lee made it 14-10 at halftime.
After intermission, the Eagles' defense got tougher, while the Pirates' defense began to break down. Graham had 12 rushes for 107 yards in the first half but just two carries for 4 yards in the second. Springstead lineman Randy Swank was stellar, recording a sack and three tackles for loss in the game.
"We had great play from our offensive line," Angelo said. "We knew we had to come in here and work hard to win. We stepped up and did what we had to do."
Bulldogs wrap up crown
LAND O'LAKES _ The Zephyrhills recipe for the Sunshine Athletic Conference game against Land O'Lakes boiled down to a pinch of fullback Terry Hurlburt (4 for 54 yards) and a heavy dose of Teon Black.
Black, the Bulldogs' senior wideout/defensive back/return specialist, grabbed three Jaimie Sullivan passes for 101 first-half yards, including two scores, and added a 90-yard kickoff return to open the second half, spoiling the Gators' homecoming 28-17 before only a handful of fans at the Swamp.
The win clinched the second SAC championship in three years for the Bulldogs (7-0 SAC, 8-1 overall), who beat the Gators (4-1, 4-4) for the fourth straight time.
Coach John Benedetto's Gators opened the scoring, benefitting from three personal fouls from Zephyrhills to march 65 yards on eight plays. Junior kicker E.J. Ray booted his first field goal of the season, a 22-yarder, with 1:52 left in the opening quarter.
Zephyrhills countered against a defense bent on stopping Pasco County's leading rusher, Terry Allen (16 rushes, 46 yards) because Demetrius "Boo Boo" McKay did not play due to a left ankle injury.
_ TONY CASTRO
Central rallies to win
BROOKSVILLE _ What Central quarterback John Willis couldn't accomplish by throwing the ball, he made up for on the receiving end.
His clutch 37-yard catch from Central's other quarterback, Matt Jewell, set up an 8-yard run by fullback Eric Coon to give the Bears a 14-12 win over Dunnellon with 49 seconds left in the game.
Willis also stifled the Tigers' last attempt at a score when he picked off Tiger quarterback Al Council's Hail Mary pass to end the game.
On fourth and 16 from the Tigers' own 19-yard line with 1:30 to play, Dunnellon elected to run out the clock as much as possible and flip the pass out through their own end zone for a safety and a 12-8 lead.
Dunnellon coach Perry Brown was gambling his defense could hold the Bears as they did for most of the game. But his gamble did not pay off.
_ CARLOS FRIAS
LECANTO _ Lecanto's Derrick Washington picked off Mount Dora quarterback Desmond Wes-ley in the end zone to seal a 13-7 victory for the Panthers.
"We're maturing," Panthers coach Dick Slack said. "We've been growing up every game. Today, we made a lot of mistakes in the second half, but we were still able to win. That shows what kind of character we have."
Panthers quarterback Brian Furniss sparked the offense, connecting with perhaps Citrus County's biggest target, 6-foot-3, 272-pound lineman/receiver/load Frank Chelkonas for a 13-yard touchdown in the first quarter. A bobbled snap foiled the point-after attempt.
_ JAMAL THALJI