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Friday night rewind

By KEITH NIEBUHR, KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 27, 2002

QUOTABLE

"That's the best team we've played all year. They were impressive on film but they looked even better in person. Coach (Perry) Brown and his staff have a good thing going. If they keep it up, there's no telling how far they'll go." -- LARRY BISHOP, Citrus coach, on Dunnellon, which defeated the Hurricanes 27-0 to win the Class 3A, District 3 title.

GAME BALLS

MARTY ALLEN, DUNNELLON: Rushed for 121 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries. He also scored on a 2-point conversion run.

CHRIS BUNCH, CRYSTAL RIVER: The junior threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to brother William for the Pirates' lone touchdown in a 28-10 loss to North Marion. He threw for 70 yards and rushed for 18 more.

DUNNELLON DEFENSE: The unit not only held Citrus to 105 yards but also kept the Hurricanes off the scoreboard. Citrus averaged 1.2 yards a carry and punted six times.

CASEY SNYDER, CITRUS: The junior quarterback was 9-of-23 for 71 yards. The numbers aren't flashy, but Snyder was pressured all night and kept his cool.

HE'S A WINNER

Perry Brown won a state title as Pasco's coach in 1992. Now, the 47-year-old is working his magic at Dunnellon.

The Tigers (8-0) are 30-10 since 1999 and claimed their first district championship since 1985. This will be Brown's third trip to the playoffs in six seasons as Tigers coach.

Dunnellon had impressive wins over Citrus (27-0), Crystal River (29-15) and Lecanto (41-6). By winning the district, the Tigers will host a first-round playoff game.

AS GOOD AS THEY APPEAR

After a 2-4 start, North Marion has won back-to-back games in convincing fashion.

The Colts got 187 rushing yards and two touchdowns from senior Mike West against Crystal River. Jermaine Thomas added two scores and 123 yards.

North Marion had no turnovers against Crystal River. In a 42-40 loss to Dunnellon, the Colts had six.

"This is a real big character game," Colts coach Craig Damon said.

Crystal River, which averaged 368 rushing yards in its previous four games, was held to 95 yards on 28 carries.

North Marion's tough schedule is paying off. After several early-season battles (and close defeats), the Colts were prepared for district play. They close the season against Lecanto (3-5) and Gainesville Eastside (2-6).

A MORAL VICTORY

After being torched for 206 yards, eight first downs and 27 first-half points, the Citrus defense more than held its own in the second half. Dunnellon kept its game plan simple, but the Hurricanes forced three turnovers and a punt.

Citrus failed to capitalize, however.

After being handed good field position in the third and fourth quarters, the Hurricanes entered Dunnellon territory four times. But those possessions ended with two missed field goals, a punt and a turnover on downs.

Still, Citrus' Bishop was pleased with the effort.

"They didn't score (in the second half) and that was our objective," he said.

Despite three straight losses, Citrus' season is far from over.

"We have a lot left to play for," Bishop said. "The county championship, conference championship and a spot in the playoffs."

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Dunnellon is for real. The Tigers have a good combination of size and speed. And they're fundamentally sound. Look for Dunnellon to finish the regular season unbeaten and advance to the second round, maybe further, in the playoffs.

2. Expect an intense Citrus-Crystal River game this week in Inverness. The loser can forget about the playoffs. Both teams enter after disappointing losses.

3. A .500 season is unlikely for Lecanto. The Panthers, losers of four straight, play at mighty North Marion next week before closing with a road game against Eustis. Lecanto can compete with Eustis, but North Marion is starting to peak.

4. Citrus County has advanced a team to the playoffs every year since 1995, but that streak is in serious jeopardy. An at-large spot is the only way Citrus or Crystal River can advance. To earn one of those berths, both need to win their final two games. Crystal River has the easier schedule, closing with Hernando. Citrus finishes at Ocala Forest.

5. The area's best young player? Some might say it's Citrus sophomore running back/defensive back R.J. Cobb. But one could argue the honor belongs to Dunnellon freshman Rodney Jones. He rushed for 66 yards on five carries against Citrus, including a 46-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

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