Zephyrhills wins Nine Mile War

The Nine-Mile War is in the books with Zephyrhills taking down Pasco 21-0 in front of a socially distant limited crowd at W.F. Edwards Stadium.

The backyard rivalry started with a unifying gesture with players of both teams entering the field carrying the American Flag, but it soon became a hard-hitting battle for bragging rights.

It looks like the Bulldogs will do all the bragging as the stifling defense kept the Pirates off the scoreboard and the scoring offense came from seniors Tre Gallimore and Zyre Roundtree.

“It’s important to get this win because all of the adversity we faced with being stopped by COVID for two weeks and then three games in eight days,” said proud Bulldog coach Nick Carroll. “It shows the character of the kids in how they are willing to fight and believe in what we’re doing. I’m really happy for them.

“Sometimes we aren’t going to score a ton of points, but our defense has been lights out all year. That’s a tribute those coaches over there with what they’ve done to make sure we’re successful on defense.”

After a sloppy, scoreless first quarter, Zephyrhills jumped out to a lead at the 9:55 mark of the second quarter when Jaxson Rivera hit Tre Gallimore with 16-yard TD pass. Rivera booted the extra point to put the Bulldogs up 7-0.

The Bulldog defense buried any momentum the Pirates had when the defense came up with a huge stop on a fourth-and-goal from the two-yard-line just before halftime. Junior defensive end Maguire Neal crashed into the backfield sacking Pirate quarterback Devin Jernigan to keep the Pirates off the board.

Following a third quarter interception by Pasco’s Caleb Meyers, the Bulldogs defense were up to the task again shutting down the Pirates in Bulldog territory.

“After not being able to play last year because I was sick, to play this year and shut them down on defense was great,” said senior defensive lineman Brian Ashmore. “It’s like somebody’s writing a book.”

“That was an important stop because going into the half, we had to stop their momentum,” said senior nose tackle Dajuan McCullough. “It was demoralizing. You could feel them giving up in the second half.”

Roundtree added a six-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run thanks to being pushed and dragged across the goal line by his offensive linemen. Rivera added the PAT, and the Bulldogs extended the lead to 14-0.

Roundtree added a 44-yard run on the next possession to give the Bulldogs a first-and-goal at the nine. Gallimore finished off the drive with a nine-yard TD run at the 7:53 mark. Rivera was good again and the Bulldogs wrapped up the scoring and the win 21-0.

Pasco claimed last year’s game 27-9, so the Bulldogs got their redemption.

“We didn’t play our best football game last year and we turned the ball over a ton,” Carroll said. “We just weren’t all there. It’s great to come to Dade City and get a win.”

After the final buzzer, temperatures flared a bit, but in the end the Nine-Mile War lived up to the traditional hype. Now it is off to the playoffs. The Bulldogs travel to face Weeki Wachee Friday in the first round.

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