Sharks D answers the call
Nature Coast coach Charles Liggett took a gamble Friday night.
He freed his defense to go after the ball, and it paid off. Four fumble recoveries and an interception drove Nature Coast to a 29-28 victory over district rival Pasco. Two of those fumbles came in the first quarter within NCT’s 30, halting chances for the Pirates to score.
Christian Maner, Bryant Warkentine, DeShawn Smith and Roshawn Williams all recovered fumbles, and Joseph Leonard added a third-quarter interception.
“I knew my defense would stop them,” Smith said. “We just believe in each other; that’s it.”
In the second half, NCT shut down a Pirates offense that scored a combined 85 points in its last two games.
After Malik Johns’ touchdown rush at the start of the third quarter, the Sharks allowed only 43 yards and shut out Pasco. NCT forced two turnovers and two three and outs while allowing only two more first downs.
NCT junior offensive lineman Christian Pellage also drew rave reviews — and impressed recruiters from Miami, who were on the sideline after offering him a scholarship earlier in the day.
The defeat was Pasco’s first regular-season home loss since October 2008 — also against Nature Coast.
North Suncoast Super 7
1. Springstead (4-1): Quarterback Tyler Mahla and running back Daniel Wright both had 100-yard games in a solid 30-18 win over Berkeley Prep.
2. Land O’Lakes (5-0): Gulf gave the Gators a scare (31-20), but a win’s a win. Better to make those mistakes now than in the coming weeks against Sunlake or Springstead.
3. Sunlake (4-1): Five games. Twenty points allowed. Not too shabby for Ben Wood and the Seahawks defense.
4. Zephyrhills (4-1): Devin Brockington had more touchdowns against Weeki Wachee (three) than he scored in the first four games of the season combined.
5. Nature Coast (2-2): Don’t overlook quarterback Ryan Quigley, who played well in place of Jamison Carnegie. Quigley picked up a fourth-down conversion on the go-ahead drive and threw the winning two-point conversion pass to Lenny Beetz.
6. Pasco (2-2): If the Pirates fall this week to powerhouse South Sumter, they’ll slip under .500 for the first time since October 2007.
7. Hernando (1-3): This week’s rivalry showdown against Nature Coast seems even bigger than usual for Troy Grant Hambrick and the Leopards.
Three things we didn’t see coming
1. Nature Coast 29, Pasco 28. That about sums it up.
2. Anclote’s defense allowing only 21 points to Fivay. The Sharks have been solid on that side of the ball, but containing the Falcons’ high-scoring offense is no easy feat.
3. Gulf hanging with Land O’Lakes. The Bucs trailed the undefeated Gators 24-20 going into the fourth quarter. If moral victories exist, Joey Nickerson and his teammates just picked up a big one.
Five performances that deserve another mention
Mitchell K John Schwindt: Making a 32-yard field goal as time expires to beat your cross-town rival? Yeah, that’s worth bringing up again.
Ridgewood RB Glass Wilson: The sophomore continues to be a bright spot for the winless Rams. Rushing for 106 yards against Sunlake’s stingy defense is impressive.
Anclote RB Trent Crawford: His second 100-yard game of the season (a career-high 141 yards) included three scores in a statement victory.
River Ridge RB Ben Perdomo: The bruising senior rushed 39 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He ran on 12 of the Royal Knights’ 14 plays and converted twice on fourth down during a scoring drive that tied the game at 21 in the fourth quarter.
Pasco TE/LB Bowman Archibald: The 6-foot-6 junior caught a touchdown pass from his knees in the first quarter and recovered a fumble on defense, too.
“Our three backs all have to block for the run game to be successful.” — Mitchell coach Scott Schmitz. His run game was certainly successful in a rivalry win over River Ridge. Schmitz credited Nick Boler’s blocking for helping Nate Boler rush for 115 yards and Ryan Marsh run for two scores.
Weeki Wachee quarterback Marcus Allen was okay Saturday morning, after leaving Friday night’s game in an ambulance with a neck injury. X-rays were negative, Hornets coach Mark Lee said, and Allen is questionable to return for this week’s rivalry game at Central.
Compiled by staff writers Matt Baker and Mary Kenney. Times correspondent Darek Sharp contributed to this report.