By Cameron Valdez
The Laker/Lutz News Correspondent
The Wiregrass Ranch football team went to Sunlake Sept. 7 with upset on its minds.
The Bulls (0-2) were looking to score their first win in 14 contests stretching back to Nov. 5, 2010. Meanwhile, the Seahawks (2-0) have gone 13-3 during that same stretch, but needed everything they had to survive 17-12 against Wiregrass Ranch.
Despite forcing three first half turnovers, the Bulls (0-2) were unable to gain a single first down in eight possessions before halftime. Sunlake shook off its mistakes thanks to Eddie Burgos.
The senior scored both Seahawks touchdowns in the contest, the first on a 29-yard run and the other off a 24-yard pass from quarterback Josh Zifer.
“Being a senior, I knew that I really needed to step up and be a leader,” said Burgos said, who finished with 137 yards on 18 carries.
Connor Gilboy added a 33-yard field goal to take a 17-0 lead before the break.
Wiregrass Ranch was a different team in the second half.
On Sunlake’s second drive, the Bulls defense forced a fumble that was returned to the 1-yard line by Joe Irizarry. The Bulls scored on the next play with a quarterback sneak by Shane Bucenell to make the score 17-6 at the end of three.
“I have to give it up to my coaches,” said Wiregrass Ranch coach Jeremy Shobe. “They all made the adjustments we needed to make.”
The Bulls got their first possession of the fourth quarter with 7:28 left but were without Bucenell, who was hurt earlier in the contest.
In stepped Jake Day, who started under center last year before moving to wide receiver/defensive back this season. The senior hooked up with Ryan Shea for a 76-yard touchdown pass with 6:26 left to close the gap 17-12.
“Our quarterback went down and I needed to step up,” Day said.
Wiregrass Ranch forced another Sunlake fumble, one of the Seahawks’ eight in the contest, and took over 16 yards from the goal line with five minutes remaining.
Sunlake’s defense rose to the challenge, sacking Day for a 12-yard loss to force a fourth-and-20. Day’s next pass was picked off by Joe Jean-Baptiste in the end zone to halt the comeback.
“We’ve been in that position before,” said Seahawks coach Bill Browning. “Our defense really came through. Wiregrass came to play tonight.”
The Bulls host Pasco Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Sunlake has a bye this week.