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Friday night rewind

By KEITH NIEBUHR and KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002


QUOTABLE

"You could have driven a semi through there."

-- CASEY SNYDER, On the hole provided by the Hurricanes offensive line on R.J. Cobb's 51-yard, first-quarter run in a 31-9 win over Wildwood.

GAME BALLS

LARRY BISHOP, CITRUS COACH: The Hurricanes are off to their best start in eight years. In his previous four seasons at Citrus, Bishop has never won more than four games. Citrus could be 6-0 when North Marion travels to Inverness on Oct. 18.

THE CITRUS D-LINE: After giving up more than 200 rushing yards in each of its first three games, Citrus held Wildwood to 101 yards on 23 carries -- and 58 yards came on one play. The Hurricanes' interior players dominated.

R.J. COBB, CITRUS: The sophomore topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the fourth consecutive game, finishing with 191 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. His 51-yard score on the opening play was nice, but his 29-yard score that followed was even more impressive. On the play, he was hit by several defenders but eluded them by doing a 360-degree spin.

JERE DEFOOR, CRYSTAL RIVER COACH: After a disappointing loss to Dunnellon, DeFoor and his staff put together a game plan that allowed the Pirates to upset Dixie County, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A, 21-6. Crystal River avoided losing back to back games, something it hasn't done since 1995.

JARVIS PATTERSON, LECANTO: The senior rushed for a career-high 268 yards on 23 carries in a 23-21 win over Springstead, topping the 263 he had against Springstead in 2001. His touchdown runs covered 63 and 62 yards.

BRENDAN SMITH, CITRUS: Smith provided a nice compliment to R.J. Cobb by rushing for 72 yards on eight carries.

CHIANTA SMITH, CRYSTAL RIVER: The junior rushed for 114 yards and two scores.

BACK ATTACK

Citrus' R.J. Cobb had another big night but Hurricanes coaches have to be thrilled by the play of Brendan Smith, who helped shoulder the load. The senior had 56 yards on six carries in Citrus' first three games, but was a major contributor against Wildwood.

"Brendan did a great job," coach Larry Bishop said. "He's a known commodity to us, but we just haven't been able to use him the way we did tonight."

Citrus also got 49 rushing yards from Isaiah Webb. The Hurricanes finished with 317 yards on 49 carries. They had 10 runs of 10 or more yards.

AMPLE REPLACEMENT

Lecanto quarterback Brian Dawsy, forced to lead the team in the absence of injured quarterback Phil Reed, gutted out a big hit that knocked him out of the game for a while. In the second quarter, he scored on a 1-yard keeper and ran in the two-point conversion. Dawsy also had an 18-yard completion.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

We tried to tell you not to count Crystal River out, but some of you didn't listen. The Pirates lost their opener to South Sumter, a team capable of winning the Class 2A state title. And last week, they fell to Dunnellon largely because they turned it over six times. Friday night's win at Dixie County, which hadn't lost a regular-season game at home since 1999, should quiet some of the skeptics. With a win over Lecanto this week, the Pirates would move back into the hunt for a playoff spot.

If Lecanto's Jarvis Patterson keeps it up, he'll likely earn area player-of-the-year honors. With Phil Reed out with a season-ending injury, Springstead knew Lecanto's entire offense would revolve around Patterson. It didn't matter. He sliced and diced his way to a career night and the Panthers moved to 3-1 for only the third time in their history.

The Citrus defense is getting better every week. Okay, so Wildwood isn't Florida State, but the Hurricanes did a great job negating Wildwood's speed. The keys: penetration by the defensive line and solid tackling by all 11 defenders. The Wildcats had 127 yards and seven first downs.

Little things mean a lot. A Lecanto safety with 4:16 remaining in the first quarter proved to be the difference in the Panthers' 23-21 win. Springstead kicker Mike Hibbert attempted a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that was almost good and would have given Springstead a 24-23 lead.

The best defense around belongs to Crystal River. The Pirates limited an athletic Dixie County team to 120 yards.

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