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Football: Zephyrhills 44, Wesley Chapel 28

Bulldogs end opening skid thanks to a career night from Zyre Roundtree.

WESLEY CHAPEL — Zyre Roundtree ran for a career-high 254 yards and the Zephyrhills defense capitalized on five turnovers for a 44-28 win over host Wesley Chapel in the Class 5A, District 11 opener for both teams.

“I told him I needed him tonight and he came through,” Zephyrhills coach Nick Carroll said of Roundtree, a senior running back who also had a personal-record 24 carries.

The Bulldogs, coming off five consecutive playoff appearances, notched their first win of the season at the expense of the Wildcats. Both teams are 1-3 overall, Zephyrhills being 1-0 in the district while Wesley Chapel 0-1.

“It feels good,” Carroll said. “It gets the monkey off my back.”

Tied at 28, Zephyrhills went ahead for good in the third quarter when Mcguire Neal tackled Wildcat quarterback Matt Helms in the end zone for a safety. The Bulldogs then got a 40-yard touchdown scramble from quarterback T.J. Jackson and Roundtree’s second scoring run of the game, a 3-yarder to account for the final margin.

Jelani Vassell had three of Wesley Chapel’s four touchdown runs, scoring from 1, 20 and 25 yards out. Fullback Brenden Maddox added a 17-yard scoring run for the Wildcats.

The see-saw battle, marred by 235 penalty yards (160 by Zephyrhills) had four lead changes and was tied twice. Wesley Chapel took advantage of two botched punts by the Bulldogs, scoring two touchdowns thanks to good field position after those miscues.

Zephyrhills got 21 points by capitalizing on turnovers as well. Clayton Cornelius had two interceptions with Jaylin Thomas and Zion Williams adding pickoffs. Williams ran his pick into the end zone.

Cornelius added a clutch catch on offense, scoring on a 35-yard pass from Jackson on a fourth-down play.