South Sumter’s undefeated season was in jeopardy late Friday night as the Bulldogs rallied to pull within three points late, but the Raiders held on for a 23-20 win dropping the Bulldogs to 3-3 on the season.
South Sumter’s high powered offense was slowed by the swarming Bulldog defense as Zephyrhills held the Raiders to the fewest points of their season.
“It’s been like this all year,” said Zephyrhills Coach Nick Carroll. “I have nothing bad to say. We play good teams week in and week out. There are no easy wins. As far as this one, we came up a bit short. We’ll go back to work to learn how to win these close ones.”
South Sumter jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a 23-yard field goal and increased the lead late in the first half after blocking a Zephyrhills that left them on the Bulldogs’ seven yard line. Two plays later, Raider running back Jamar Dorsey hit pay dirt to put South Sumter ahead 9-0 with just over a minute reaming before halftime.
Zephyrhills answered quickly marching down the field before scoring with 17 seconds left when quarterback Brendyn Colella hit Teddy Sands with a 20-yard TD pass to pull within 9-7 At inter mission.
“You have to have heart at Zephyrhills,” Sands said. “Every second of every play, you have to play your heart out and not give up and saw that in my teammates tonight.”
South Sumter answered early in the third quarter when Dorsey took off 49 yards for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 16-7 lead. The Bulldogs came back with Rodney Smith slamming into the end zone on a four-yard run. The Bulldogs two-point conversion failed leaving the score at 16-13.
The Raiders took time off the clock with a long drive capped with a two-yard touchdown plunge by running back Stanley Young to go up 23-13 in the fourth quarter.
Zephyrhills’ Fred Adams lined up as a receiver took a pass in the flat and dashed down the sideline going airborne near the goal line to reach the end zone to pull his team to within 23-20 with 4:44 left to play.
The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Zephyrhills but an offside penalty forced the Bulldogs to move back and kick again. Instead they kicked it deep. The Bulldog defense held forcing the Raiders to punt.
The Bulldogs got the ball back, but a holding penalty forced the Bulldogs into a third-and 22 situation. They couldn’t recover.
The Bulldogs face another undefeated team next week when they travel nine miles north to Dade City to take on Pasco in a game that will likely decide the 3S District 7 title.
“It’s Pasco and they are undefeated,” Carroll said. “There’s not much to say about that one.”