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Wiregrass Ranch hands first loss to Zephyrhills

The Bulls score six straight touchdowns at one point and the defense clamps down on the Bulldogs.
Zephyrhills may have entered Friday night's game unbeaten, but Wiregrass Ranch is the team that wins big, 40-7.
Zephyrhills may have entered Friday night's game unbeaten, but Wiregrass Ranch is the team that wins big, 40-7. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 9
Updated Oct. 9

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.