BULLDOGS 35 ROYAL KNIGHTS 24

ZEPHYRHILLS – A 21-point first quarter provided plenty of cushion and Zephyrhills won the battle of East vs. West over River Ridge, 35-24.

Friday night’s game was the seventh in six years between the Pasco County rivals and the Bulldogs took a 4-3 edge in the recent series by dominating the first half and producing nearly all of the night’s big plays.

Zephyrhills opened the game with a seven-play, 79-yard touchdown drive capped by Zyre Roundtree’s 8-yard scoring run.

Five offensive snaps later, the score jumped to 15-0. Bulldogs linebacker Theotis Smith snagged a one-handed interception near midfield and did the rest himself, racing 46 yards to the end zone.

River Ridge’s lone first-half score came in response to the pick-six. The Royal Knights got inside the Zephyrhills 10 before settling for a 25-yard Matthew Harkness field goal.

Explosive plays and the turnover battle were the night’s big factors, though, and Zephyrhills owned both.

The Bulldogs (4-2) produced five plays of 24 yards or more, including two touchdowns that covered more than 50 yards of turf. The first of those 50-plus pickups was a 55-yard Tre Gallimore run three plays after River Ridge’s field goal.

Gallimore and Roundtree each found the end zone twice and both playmakers intercepted River Ridge quarterback Trenton Hawks. The Bulldogs won the turnover battle 3-0.

Despite a 28-3 halftime deficit, the Royal Knights (4-3) didn’t back down. Zephyrhills' lead shrunk to 28-17 by the end of the third quarter, thanks to a pair of Hawks-to-Aaron Wyman touchdown hookups.

The momentum swing didn’t last for long following the second River Ridge touchdown. Gallimore showed off his speed again two plays into the fourth quarter, taking a short Jaxson Rivera pass 57 yards to the house.

Hawks got River Ridge into the end zone one more time on a 2-yard run, but the 3 minutes and 28 seconds remaining wasn’t enough for the West Pasco visitors to close an 11-point gap.

Zephyrhills took nearly half as many offensive snaps as River Ridge – 33 to 60 – but outgained the Royal Knights 316-243.

Rivera connected on five of his six pass attempts for 156 yards and the Gallimore touchdown. Gallimore posted 111 offensive yards, 57 receiving and 54 rushing. Roundtree led all rushers with 63 yards and two scores on 10 carries.

River Ridge rushed for 180 yards, paced by 57 on 18 attempts from Aiden Schmidt. Danny Sansonetti and Jack Sutherlin rushed for 40 yards each.

The Royal Knights will try to bounce back next week on the road against Anclote (2-5).

After dropping its first two games, Zephyrhills has now won four straight. The Bulldogs will go for five in a row next week at home against Class 1A Hawthorne (5-1). Hawthorne High is located east of Gainesville.

SCORING:

RR - 3 – 0 – 14 – 7 --- 24

ZH - 21 – 7 – 0 – 7 --- 35

ZH – Roundtree 8-yard run. Kick (Rivera) – 1st Q (8:38)

ZH – T. Smith 46-yard INT return. 2-point run – 1st Q (5:34)

RR – Harkness 25-yard FG – 1st Q (1:45)

ZH – Gallimore 55-yard run. Kick (Rivera) – 1st Q (0:52)

ZH – Roundtree 4-yard run. Kick (Rivera) – 2nd Q (1:47)

RR – Wyman 10-yard pass from Hawks. Kick (Harkness) – 3rd Q (6:57)

RR – Wyman 15-yard pass from Hawks. Kick (Harkness) – 3rd Q (1:20)

ZH – Gallimore 57-yard pass from Rivera. Kick (Rivera) – 4th Q (11:27)

RR – Hawks 2-yard run. Kick (Harkness) – 4th Q (2:28)

TEAM STATS:

----------------------RR------- ZH

Atts./Rush Yds.---41-180----27-110

Comp./Atts./Int.---11-19-3----5-6-0

Passing Yds.--------63-------156

Net Yards----------243-------316

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS:

RUSHING

RR – Schmidt (18-57), Sansonetti (12-40), Sutherlin (6-40), Hawks (3-1, TD).

ZH – Roundtree (10-63, 2 TD), Tre Gallimore (4-54, TD).

PASSING

RR – Hawks (11-19 for 63, 2 TD, 3 INT).

ZH – Rivera (5-6 for 156, TD).

RECEIVING

RR – Wyman (6-45, 2 TD).

ZH – Gallimore (1-57, TD), Jackson (2-47), Barber (1-28).