ZEPHYRHILLS — Two of Pasco County’s top teams clashed Friday night, but the outcome revealed just how far apart they are. Host Zephyrhills came in unbeaten, but Wiregrass Ranch rolled to a 40-7 win.
Only TJ Jackson’s kick return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter kept the Bulldogs (5-1) from being shut out.
The Bulls (4-1) have a three-game win streak and have won their past two games with a running clock (implemented when a team goes ahead by 35 points or more in the second half).
“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Wiregrass Ranch coach Mark Kantor said. “This was a big game. I thought we were executing offensively. Defensively, we were playing with some swag.”
Zephyrhills coach Nick Carroll offered a different perspective: “We’ve got a long ways to go.”
Following a punt on their first possession, the Bulls got touchdowns the next six times they had the ball. The first three of those scores highlighted the Rocco Becht-Bryson Rodgers connection. Becht hooked up with Rodgers on touchdown passes of 18, 10 and 31 yards to help stake Wiregrass Ranch to a 20-0 lead.
Becht, a senior and son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Anthony Becht, completed 20-of-25 for 241 yards and five touchdowns. He added scoring passes of 7 and 27 yards to Jared West and Izaiah Williams, respectively.
As for Rodgers, a Division I-A prospect as a junior, he had five receptions for 87 yards to go along with his three touchdowns. Becht has 15 touchdown passes this season, eight of which have gone to Rodgers.
“When you have a young man like Rocco who can read a defense and spread the ball around, and a guy being recruited by teams you’re going to be alright,” Kantor said.
Late in the third quarter, Wiregrass Ranch got a touchdown on its sixth consecutive possession as Kenneth Walker burst up the middle on a 9-yard scoring run for a 40-0 lead.
Zephyrhills reached the Bulls’ 7-yard line twice, but on both occasions a high snap from center resulted in big losses.
On a brighter note for the Bulldogs, Jaylin Thomas ran for a game-high 138 yards and now has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in five of his team’s six games.