Pasco leads all-time series 36-16
By Steve Lee
DADE CITY — Zephyrhills shook off its underdog label in the 9-Mile War by capitalizing on a first-quarter turnover for a 7-0 lead against archrival Pasco.
The Bulldogs never found the end zone again.
The Pirates countered with 27 straight points for an insurmountable 20-point halftime lead en route to a 48-7 rout of the Bulldogs on Oct. 2 in front of a partisan crowd at W.F. Edwards Stadium.
That gave Pasco a 36-16 lead in the county’s oldest rivalry, but the victory meant much more than bragging rights and civic pride. It gave the two-time district champions a 3-1 overall record and 2-0 mark in Class 3A, District 7.
Zephyrhills remained winless at 0-4, 0-2 in the district.
“You need to enjoy the weekend,” Pasco coach Tom McHugh told his players in a postgame huddle. “Read the newspapers and gloat a little.”
After that, however, the coach reminded his players that Monday’s practice would mean getting back to the business of pursuing a playoff spot. The Pirates advanced to the state semifinals last season and are eager for another shot at the title.
Jamie Byrd, who ran for three touchdowns and scored on a fumble return, put Pasco’s win in perspective.
“It means a lot, but now I’m focused on the next game,” said Byrd, a junior who splits time at fullback and middle linebacker.
The win was especially rewarding for Pasco quarterback D.J. Clower. The senior, who spent two seasons on the Zephyrhills junior varsity before transferring, turned 18 on game day.
“It’s a good win on my birthday,” Clower said with a smile.
Pasco dominated on both sides of the ball with a high-powered offense balanced by a ball-hawking defense that forced six turnovers, including four fumbles.
The outcome looked like anything but a sure thing early on. Zephyrhills linebacker Ben Williams intercepted Clower to set up Jamal Roberts’ 2-yard scoring run.
But Pasco got that back and more on two touchdown runs by Byrd, Mike Clower’s score on a fumble recovery, a safety and a Brennan Allen field goal.
Janarion Grant and Clifford Phillips added second-half touchdown runs for the Pirates.
Zephyrhills threatened in the third quarter, reaching the red zone on a 54-yard pass play from quarterback Charles Smith to Peterman. That drive was halted by Mike Clower’s second interception.