NEW PORT RICHEY — There was no wild jumping or any notable celebrating after Wiregrass Ranch defeated Gulf 42-7 Friday. Just a postgame line to salute the fans who made the trip and a march back to the locker room.
Yes, the Bulls acted like they’ve been there before. Even though they hadn’t since 2010.
Wiregrass Ranch ended a 22-game losing streak as quarterback Shane Bucenell accounted for three scores, Gerald Grady ran for a pair of second-half touchdowns and John Harris-Scott ran for 134 yards. The defense allowed an early TD, but then limited the host Bucs to 27 second-half yards.
“It’s great to get an official win, but we have to act like it’s expected,” first-year Bulls coach Mike Lawrence said. “That’s the only way you get the confidence, and you keep winning.”
Will this be the first of many wins for Wiregrass Ranch?
‘Yes” was the simple-yet-emphatic answer given by Bulls receiver James Jackson. He caught three passes for 66 yards, his 17-yard TD grab providing the halftime score of 21-7.
Bucenell went 7-of-10 for 136 yards and Wiregrass had 220 on the ground.
It was competitive for a half. But Gulf twice came up empty after reaching the 5-yard line en route to its 13th straight loss.
Montavious Reed had five catches for 125 yards in the first half. His reception on a double pass set the Bucs up at the 4-yard line leading to Deontre Bryant’s tying touchdown run early.
Gulf was lining up for a short field goal and potential 10-7 lead when the Bulls jumped offside and the Bucs chose to go for it on fourth and 3 from the 4. Quarterback Avery Welch tried to get around the left edge but was denied by Jordan Mutcherson.
Aided by three 15-yard penalties, two coming on one play, the Bulls went 95 yards, capped by Bucenell’s 1-yard sneak.
A bad snap led to a short punt and Jackson scored two plays later. Gulf then looked to close the half with a score but missed a 27-yard field goal try with 11 seconds left.
There were four helmet-to-helmets called.