ZEPHYRHILLS – For the second season in-a-row the Zephyrhills Bulldogs (11-0) will advance to the regional semifinal game of the FHSAA 5A region 2 state playoffs. The Bulldogs easily handled the Crystal River Pirates 35-0 Friday night for their second consecutive shutout performance. They now have five shutouts on the season and have outscored their opponents 182-12 over the past four games.
Doug Crawford remained hot as the Bulldogs signal caller completing 9-of-16 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns, one each to Tyreese Wigfall, Keontae Lanier and Cartrell Strong. Strong’s reception TD went for 62-yards as time expired in the first half to give Zephyrhills a 16-0 halftime advantage.
Strong also scored on his first carry of the game, bursting through the middle of the line for an 87-yard run that gave Zephyrhills an early 10-0 lead. As a kick returner he also had a 95-yard scamper on a punt that was called back on a penalty.
Crystal River (8-3), who came into the contest averaging 232 rushing yards per game, drove the field late in the second only to fumble on the Bulldogs 5-yardline. The miscue was recovered by Strong, resulting in his 62-yard scoring reception to end the half.
The Pirates received the second half kick but were shut down on a fourth down conversion attempt. The Zephyrhills drive that followed ended with a 37-yard toss from Crawford to Tyreese Wigfall who made a juggling catch in the end zone for a touchdown to open the second half scoring.
A later 35-yard reception to Wigfall set up a Zyree Roundtree 5-yard scoring plunge. The play that started the running clock was a Lanier score that followed a third-and-long 35-yard, drive saving run by Crawford.
The stingy Bulldogs defense limited the Pirates to 124 offensive yards, including just 21 passing. The Pirates were without the services of their leading rusher Devonte Parker, a 1462-yard rusher on the season, who was out due to injury.
Zephyrhills will face North Marion (Ocala) next week in Bulldogs Stadium in the semifinal. The Mustangs who are 10-2 advanced by defeating Menendez HS 27-22 Friday night.