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By KEITH NIEBUHR, FRANK PASTOR, KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 20, 2002


QUOTABLE

"We're still not out of the playoff hunt. If we go 3-1 (in 3A-3), we stand a good chance of going to the playoffs. Our hopes have not diminished" -- LARRY BISHOP, Citrus coach after the Hurricanes' 42-20 loss to North Marion

GAME BALLS

MARTY ALLEN, DUNNELLON: The junior rushed for 100 yards, caught 3 passes for 51 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown, and intercepted 2 passes, returning one 47 yards for another score, in the Tigers' 41-6 victory over Lecanto.

KRISTEN BULLOCK, DUNNELLON: The senior rushed for a game-high 149 yards on 13 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown.

BRUCE EMBERLY, LECANTO: The senior reached over a defensive back to haul in a C.J. Osborn pass and raced for a 75-yard touchdown, the Panthers' only one. He also averaged 40 yards on five punts.

RYAN McNALLY, CRYSTAL RIVER: In his final home game, the senior rushed for 191 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored on a 2-point conversion.

SCOTT O'STEEN, CRYSTAL RIVER: The senior linebacker had three sacks.

CASEY SNYDER, CITRUS: The junior passed for 150 yards and one touchdown while competing 58 percent of his passes. The performance was Snyder's best this season.

ISAIAH WEBB, CITRUS: The senior rushed 11 times for 65 yards and 1 touchdown and caught 2 passes for 18 yards. Nearly every time Citrus needed to make a play, they turned to Webb.

GAME-CHANGERS

Coaches often say one or two plays were the difference in a game. Sometimes, that's hogwash, but sometimes, it's right on the mark.

In Friday's Citrus-North Marion game, two plays played a major factor.

The first, a blocked field goal on the final play of the first half, kept Citrus from taking a 17-14 lead. The second came on the Hurricanes' first drive of the second half. After moving to the Colts 23 on four plays, Snyder was intercepted at the 1. Eight plays and 99 yards later, North Marion took the lead for good. On their next three drives -- all ending with touchdowns -- the Colts went 44, 99 and 82 yards.

"That's what separates playoff-caliber teams and not playoff-caliber teams," Bishop said.

BACK TO FORM:

Lecanto's Jarvis Patterson rushed for 99 yards on 19 carries and caught a 21-yard pass in Friday's 41-6 loss to Dunnellon after missing a game with a bruised back and muscle spasms. Patterson practiced the entire week before the game and is "almost 100 percent again," coach Dick Slack said.

"We're glad to have him back," Slack said. "We're definitely a lot better with him than we are without him." Dunnellon coach Perry Brown said he wasn't worried. "Going in, we were concerned about Patterson and him being the guy that might break things open for them," Brown said. "But when we scored the points and got ahead, we kind of just started playing the football game and weren't that concerned with him and his yardage because a back like him, he's going to get his yardage."

COMING ALONG

Lecanto's C.J. Osborn completed 2 of 10 passes for 96 yards and threw three interceptions. But Slack said he was pleased with the progress the former junior varsity QB made in his second varsity start, which included a 75-yard touchdown to Emberly.

"He's head and shoulders better than he was the first week," Slack said. "He's a sophomore, and he's going to continue to get better. Things are so much faster up here, especially with a team like this.

"He's getting hit when he throws the ball. He's hanging in there. He makes a mistake. He forgets it, and that's big for a kid that age." JUST AN OBSERVATION

1. Marion County is the place to be Friday. Crystal River is at North Marion, and Citrus is at Dunnellon. With playoff berths on the line, expect two of the area's best games of the season. If Dunnellon wins, it clinches the district title and Citrus is hard-pressed to make the playoffs. But a Citrus victory muddies the picture. As good as Crystal River and North Marion are, at least one won't make the playoffs. Folks, things are about to get interesting.

2. If there is a team in this area with more team speed than North Marion, we haven't seen it. Colts coach Craig Damon said before playing Citrus his wasn't a 2-4 squad. Man, was he right.

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