FOOTBALL: Tarpon blasts Dunedin

DUNEDIN — Tarpon Springs showed that it’s more than just a one-man show Friday night.
Playing without leading rusher Michael Ford (shoulder), the Spongers delivered a well-rounded performance in beating nearby rival Dunedin, 44-7.
“A lot of people want to say that all we have is Michael Ford,” said Tarpon Springs coach Ron Hawn, “but clearly we play pretty good defense and clearly we have a few other running backs and athletes.”
Patrick Miller (17 carries for 110 yards, 2 TDs) and Montel Johnson (15 for 61, TD) neutralized the impact of Ford’s absence. The duo combined for Tarpon Springs’ three first-quarter touchdowns and the Spongers didn’t look back.
Friday was both teams’ first Class 5A District 8 game of the season, meaning Tarpon Springs (3-1, 1-0) has an early leg up in the race for one of the league’s top-two seeds.
Dunedin’s lone score came in the second quarter when freshman quarterback Janero Crankfield, filling in for the Givanni Gonzalez, threaded an 8-yard pass to receiver Jayvon Fitzpatrick. Crankfield went 4 of 8 for 23 yards, the touchdown and an interception and ran for a team-high 62 yards on 18 attempts.
“That kid can really fly,” Hawn said of Crankfield. “We were pretty aggressive and trying to get after him. We gave up a couple plays here and there because we were playing aggressive, but that’s going to happen.”
Tarpon Springs also started a backup under center for the second straight week. Junior Brandon Casler settled in nicely this week, completing 7 of 8 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Johnson (49 yards) and Mitchell Wilcox (23 yards) for the scores.
“We’re real happy with [Casler] right now,” Hawn said. “He’s doing a great job for us.”
Johnson turned in an impact performance, adding 90 receiving yards and the touchdown on five catches.
The Spongers defense held Dunedin (1-3, 0-1) to 87 total yards, forced three turnovers, picked up four sacks and recorded a safety when Wilcox tripped up Crankfield behind the goal line. After being shutout the previous two weeks, the Falcons have now been outscored 122-7 by its last three opponents.
“I thought we adjusted pretty well, tackled really well and played really aggressive,” Hawn said of his defense’s night.
Maurice Turner, who picked off a pass in the third quarter, capped Tarpon Springs’ scoring by running back the post-safety free kick 71 yards.
Casler, Miller and Johnson accounted for 289 of the Spongers’ 308 total net yardage.
Both teams will be on the road for non-district games next week.
Tarpon Springs heads to East Lake (4-0) for its annual cross-town rivalry clash.
Dunedin travels south to take on Osceola High (3-1).
TC - 21 – 0 – 14 – 9 --- 44
TS - 0 – 7 – 0 – 0 --- 7
TS – Miller 3-yard run. PAT kick (Zervos) – 1st Quarter (6:27)
TS – Johnson 1-yard run. PAT kick (Zervos) – 1st Quarter (3:07)
TS – Miller 2-yard run. PAT kick (Zervos) – 1st Quarter (0:14)
DHS – Fitzpatrick 8-yard pass from Crankfield. PAT kick (Deely) – 2nd Quarter (2:37)
TS – Johnson 49-yard pass from Casler. – 3rd Quarter (11:04)
TS – Wilcox 23-yard pass from Casler. PAT kick (Serafianos) – 3rd Quarter (0:48)
TS – Safety (Crankfield sacked by Wilson) – 4th Quarter (11:52)
TS – Turner 71-yard kick return. PAT kick (Zervos) – 4th Quarter (11:31)
First Downs---------14---------10
Atts./Rush Yds.---39-180----32-64
Passing Yds.--------128-------23
Total Offense------308-------87
TS – Miller (17-110, 2 TD), Johnson (15-61, TD).
DHS – Crankfield (18-62).
TS – Casler (7-8 for 128, 2 TD).
DHS – Crankfield (4-8 for 23, TD, INT).
TS – Johnson (4-90, TD), Wilcox (1-23, TD).
DHS – Fitzpatrick (1-8, TD), Martinez (1-8).
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