Zephyrhills bounced back in a big way from last week’s lopsided 40-7 loss to Wiregrass Ranch with a 44-3 dominant win over district foe Cypress Creek.
In a game of rarities, Bulldog running back Jaylin Thomas could be scanning the ZHS and Pasco County record books by scoring what appears to be a record-setting four touchdowns in the first quarter.
Thomas’ performance was nothing short of amazing as he cruised to four TDs and 99 rushing yards and 38 receiving yards in the quarter as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 28-0 lead and never looked back.
“I get to be with some of the greats in the record books,” Thomas said. “Just put me ahead of my brother (former ZHS and current Loras College running back Elijah Thomas).”
Thomas had touchdown runs of 3, 13 and 50 yards. He added a 38-yard TD reception from quarterback Jaxson Rivera. The senior running back didn’t any action for the rest of the first half and ran a handful of plays in the second half that went by quickly thanks to the 35-point mercy rule running clock.
The Class 5A-District 9 win puts the Bulldogs in the drivers’ seat. A win next week over district foe Nature Coast Tech would give the Bulldogs the district crown.
“We have to go get a title,” Thomas said. “That’s what we’re working for. Last week we learned we weren’t the best and we couldn’t get our heads too high, because anybody could come in our house or their house and show us up.”
The Bulldogs relied heavily on the run game in the first half and it paid off in a big way with three from Thomas and one from Willie Queen.
“We thought we could run the football against them,” said Zephyrhills coach Nick Carroll. “It was good. I’m glad we were able to bounce back after the nightmare from last Friday.”
Queen exploited the Cypress Creek defense with a 46-yard TD run in the second quarter. Shortly after safety Tymar Mckever got a gift as Coyote quarterback Owen Walls was stripped of the ball near his own goal line and the ball was snatched out of the air by Mckever, who took two steps into the end zone for the interception return for a touchdown.
It was the Coyotes’ senior night with the highlight coming from senior kicker Colton Corrao when he booted a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter to avoid the shutout.
The Bulldogs defense put more points on the board as time expired when they picked up a safety for the winning margin of 44-3.
“This game is important because it was a district game and they are the most important ones we have all season,” said Bulldog linebacker Theotis Smith. “The main thing we worked on this week was not dwelling on our loss and focusing on the next game.”
“Tough times don’t last and tough people do,” Carroll said of his message to his players after the Nov. 8 loss to the Bulls. “We had to check on ourselves to see who we really were and we got our head brought back down. Wiregrass is a good football team and we went back and worked.”