Bulldogs pull away from Gators for 26-14 win

After spotting Land O’ Lakes a 14-0 lead, Zephyrhills roared back with 26 unanswered points to take a 26-14 win over Land O’ Lakes Friday night in The Swamp.”

After the Bulldogs’ defense struggled to stop the Gators’ running attack and fell behind 14-0 late in the second half, the defense stepped up as Roe Miller took an interception return 65 yards for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs on the board at 14-7 at halftime.

“We got big heads after we beat Wiregrass,” said Zephyrhills coach Nick Carroll. “I talked to them about it before we left to come here. I wasn’t happy with the way our preparation was. We came out very flat. They know what I said to them and what I expect.”

Carroll made some adjustments at halftime as the defense made some key turnovers to shutout the Gators in the second half and the offense made big plays to tie the game in the third quarter and pull away in the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t protect and run the ball very efficiently at first,” said Carroll. “We talked about scoring on defense and we didn’t get any turnovers last Friday (against Wiregrass). The best thing is someone always finds ways to make plays on this team. That’s what we need to have.”

The Bulldogs (3-1 on the season) tied the score at 14-14 when Tristain Lennon (five carries for 34 yards) blasted into the endzone from 8-yards out in the third quarter. The Bulldogs took the lead in the fourth quarter when running back Rodney Smith (15 carries for 58 yards) scored. The PAT was no good and the Bulldogs were up 20-14.

With time ticking away, The Gators were moving the ball well with their patented running attack including converting a key fourth-and-two at the Zephyrhills 28-yard line. They tried to catch the Bulldogs off guard with a pass play, but it failed epically when Lennon plucked it out the air and dashed 56 yards inside the Gators’ 30.

In the waning minutes, Zephyrhills converted on a key fourth down its own when quarterback Bendyn Colella hit Jakobe Campbell with an 11-yard pass for the first down to keep the drive alive. Miller scored his second touchdown of the night on a 8-ard run. The two-point conversion failed and the Bulldogs were up 26-14 with just over a minute to play.

Colella was 9-of-18 for 117 yards Campbell was his favorite target with four catches for 74 yards.

“The kid is a heck of an athlete and he comes up with big catches when we need them,” Carroll said of Campbell.  “There’s more than one guy out there.”

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