History-making year ends for Zephyrhills

The Bulldogs run into an Orlando Jones team ranked fifth overall in the state.
Orlando Jones shuts out visiting Zephyrhills 32-0 on Friday night.
Orlando Jones shuts out visiting Zephyrhills 32-0 on Friday night. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Nov. 28, 2020

ORLANDO — Friday night’s Class 5A region semifinal between Zephyrhills and Orlando Jones featured teams with eight-game winning streaks. Zephyrhills started 0-2 before reeling off eight straight wins; Orlando Jones was 8-0.

Make that now nine in a row for the Fightin’ Tigers, state finalists last year who are ranked second in Class 5A and fifth overall by MaxPreps. Orlando Jones, which was supposed to be on the road for the game but got a home contest after Pasco County schools barred spectators at events due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases, won 32-0.

Zephyrhills saw its deepest playoff run halted after winning two postseason games (including a play-in matchup) for the first time. Coach Nick Carroll lauded his players, who missed two early games when a player tested positive for the coronavirus.

“You overcame a lot of adversity and made history. It shows who you are,” he told them. “Good things come to an end. I’m very proud of you guys and what we accomplished this year.”

Carroll had high praise for Orlando Jones after his team, which posted six shutouts this season, was held scoreless for the first time.

“They’re a good football team. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “They’re fast. They’re athletic. They’re strong.”

The Fightin’ Tigers showed as much on the game’s opening drive. They marched 75 yards on 10 plays, capping the drive with a gutsy fourth-and-21 play. Quarterback Tysan Robbins connected with A’ceon Cobb on a 38-yard scoring pass along the right sideline for a 7-0 lead.

Robbins, who threw for 78 yards, split time at quarterback with Kaylan Calvez, who passed for 48 yards, including a 14-yard scoring toss to Jabari Smith. He also ran for a 4-yard touchdown.

Orlando Jones led 22-0 at halftime, a run that included Zephyrhills punter T.J. Jackson stepping out of the end zone for a safety and a 17-yard scoring run by Stephen Sparrow.

Zephyrhills reached the red zone just once, winding up with a fourth-down play at the Orlando Jones 5-yard line with eight seconds left in the game. On that play, quarterback Jaxson Rivera, who finished 11-of-24 for 74 yards, was intercepted for the second time in the game.

The Orlando Jones defense keyed on Zephyrhills running back Zyre Roundtree, who gained just 44 yards on 14 carries. Jones running back Daquan Harris had a game-high 102 rushing yards.