By Steve Lee
LAND O’ LAKES — In a pivotal Class 3A, District 7 matchup, Land O’ Lakes boosted its playoff chances with a 48-30 win that all but eliminated Gulf from the postseason race.
The host Gators improved to 4-0 overall and share 2-0 district records with co-leaders Mitchell, Pasco and Sunlake. The Buccaneers fell to 3-2, 0-2 in 3A-7.
Land O’ Lakes held a slim 26-24 lead through three quarters before breaking it open. Stephen Weatherford threw touchdown passes of 63 and 13 yards to Alex Robinson and Tyler Peak before Will Irwin returned a fumble 33 yards for another score.
Gulf struck early, taking a 14-0 lead on Madison Burr scoring passes to Tom Polito and Will Burbridge. Burr figured in on two second-half scores, running for one touchdown and completing a 44-yard pass to David Ramirez.
Weatherford finished with four touchdown passes, including first-half strikes to Irwin and Jason Tello. Land O’ Lakes also got a scoring return by Jackson Cannon after a blocked punt. Peak added a 53-yard touchdown run for the Gators.
SUNLALE 47, ANCLOTE 0: Sunlake remained in the playoff hunt with a decisive home win over first-year Anclote. The Seahawks won two in a row for the first time in school history and posted their largest-ever victory margin.
Alex Rodriguez had a school-record 93-yard scoring run and Rashaud Daniels rushed for a game-high 120 yards with three touchdowns, including one on a punt return. Teammate Jacob Jackson ran for two scores.
MITCHELL 33, WESLEY CHAPEL 13: The Mustangs took a 31-7 halftime lead to remain unbeaten. Ricky Trinidad gained 163 yards and scored twice, while quarterback Matt Michaels ran for a touchdown and completed a 30-yard scoring pass to Dylan Buono.
Wesley Chapel got a 96-yard kickoff return from Devon Henry and a touchdown run from Jon Mahan.
RIVER RIDGE 28, CENTRAL 16: Quarterback Kenny Toce ran for a touchdown and completed scoring passes to Trevor Hooker and Zack Ford to lead the Royal Knights. Stavros Arianas gained 141 yards and added a touchdown run.
RIDGEWOOD 28, SPRINGSTEAD 17: In his first start at quarterback, Nick Martino ran for two touchdowns, scored on a punt return and had two interceptions to lead the Rams to their first win. Ridgewood also got a touchdown run from Cameron Rodriguez and recovered three fumbles by the Eagles.
BERKELEY PREP 38, HUDSON 21: Hudson fell behind 21-7 by halftime and never caught up. The Cobras got two touchdown runs from Dylan Luke and Zack Wynn threw a scoring pass to