Bulldogs drop playoff opener, 12-10

St. Pete Gibbs holds on for first round win

All good things must end

The Zephyrhills Bulldogs’ season came to an untimely end in the first round of the Class 5A-Region 3 playoffs at the hands of the St. Pete Gibbs Gladiators Friday night, 12-10.

Costly penalties and turnovers were the difference as the 9-2 Bulldogs watched their playoff run come to an end before it could start.

“These guys are like are all my sons and this sucks for them,” said Zephyrhills Head Coach Nick Carroll. “Hats off to Gibbs. They played a heck of a game. They are a good football team.”

Gibbs jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when it took the opening drive 80 yards on 12 plays. The drive encompassed nearly six minutes and relied heavily on its strong running attack.

The Bulldogs answered right back on a drive that took half the time and saw TJ Jackson make a great catch on a timing pattern to set up for an 18-yard touchdown run by Jaylin Thomas to give ZHS a 7-6 lead.

Thomas was the workhorse for the Bulldogs with 166 yards on 22 carries.

The Gladiators took a 12-7 lead into the locker room at halftime when they converted on a 14-yard TD strike on fourth down.

“I told them that we have to own the second half and we have to play our hearts out,” Carroll said. “That’s exactly what they did. I’m really proud of those kids and what they accomplished. They have nothing to hang their heads about.”

The Bulldogs’ defense held Gibbs scoreless in the second half, but the Gladiators were tough as well only allowing a 27-yard Jaxson Rivera field goal.

Not only did the Bulldogs’ season come to an end, senior safety Nick Sheldon suffered a serious fracture to his arm and was transported to the hospital.

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