Just when the Pasco Pirates didn't think it could get much worse, they ran into an old rival that made them feel a little better about themselves.
After their worst start in more than 20 years, the Pirates (1-2) found the strength to pummel Hernando 62-6.
"It doesn't make up for the losses, but it sure feels good," Pasco coach Dale Caparaso said. "I wish we'd played like this in the first two games. It's been a long time coming."
Caparaso made a crucial switch this week by making sophomore Tony Smith the starting quarterback and moving quarterback Kyle Hobbs to running back. Smith performed beyond his team's expectations, completing six of 10 passes for 211 yards and throwing for four touchdowns (83, 36, 14 and 45 yards).
Hobbs led the team in rushing with 104 yards on eight carries. On his third carry, he scored a 21-yard touchdown.
"I went in there and played just as hard like I would at quarterback," said Hobbs. "This was a big confidence builder for me, and a big confidence builder for our team."
The Leopards (1-3), meanwhile, looked dejected leaving the field after committing six turnovers (four fumbles, two interceptions) and amassing 54 total yards of offense. They came out slightly stronger after halftime, despite being behind 49-0 and going to a running clock, and scored their lone touchdown after forcing a turnover of their own.
Hernando defensive back Anthony Roberts closed in on Smith as he bobbled the ball in the air twice after the snap, and Roberts grabbed the ball and ran it 41 yards into Pasco's end zone.
The Leopards seemed doomed from the start when they got excellent field position on the first drive of the game and blew it. Chad Sanders returned the opening kickoff 76 yards to put the Leopards on Pasco's 14-yard line, and two Pasco illegal motion penalties moved them within four yards of scoring. But the Leopards fumbled on the first snap of the game, and Pasco recovered and scored three plays later when Smith connected with wide receiver Dominic Brown (five catches, 166 yards) for the 83-yard touchdown.
The Pirates finished with 504 total yards of offense. Pasco running back Mike Onyskin finished with 81 yards on nine carries and scored twice.