WEEKI WACHEE — Considering the legacy Pasco created over the past few seasons, the first half of the 2013 schedule was not what anyone associated with the program envisioned.
A trip to the Hornets’ Nest might have been perfect for the ailing Pirates who, after a slow start, routed Weeki Wachee 46-7 Friday night in Class 5A, District 6 play.
“We needed this one,” Pasco coach Tom McHugh said. “We’re still in the hunt. We just have to keep winning.”
Pasco (3-3, 1-2) earned its first district victory, riding running back Malik Johns. Despite first quarter miscues that included a 21-yard loss on a bad pitch from quarterback Grant Starling to Johns and two interceptions by Starling, the Pirates turned it around to lead 38-7 at halftime.
With standout athlete Nate Craig out with a sprained ankle, Johns had 15 carries, 192 yards and four touchdowns at the half plus catches for 20 yards. His runs of 92, 44 and 37 yards to paydirt seemed to motivate his teammates.
“This win was very important, especially without Nate,” Johns said. “He’s a big part of our offense, and I knew it was on me to help create a spark.”
Defensive back Tyree Austin intercepted Weeki Wachee’s Marcus Allen twice and Tyrell Wilson tacked on two points, tackling Jon King for a safety in the third quarter.
In the second half, Johns only touched the ball once, a 6-yard reception. The Pirates relied heavily on sophomore tailback Tyler Barber to put the game away, and he carried the ball 24 times for 115 yards. Before Friday, Barber had seven carries for 1 yard on the season.
“(Barber)’s a good back, but he’s a little young right now,” McHugh said. “Once he gets in the weight room, he’s going to be a good one.”
Weeki Wachee (2-5, 1-3), coming off a victory over rival Central last week, tied it at 7 in the first quarter. Tyler Wiley’s interception gave the Hornets good field position and Allen hit Davonte Patterson for a 19-yard touchdown.