WESLEY CHAPEL - The host Wesley Chapel Wildcats (1-3) literally handed the game to the visiting Wharton Wildcats (3-1), fumbling on five consecutive first-half possessions en route to dropping the Class 5A, District 5 contest 33-7.
Wharton, hoping to get its running game on track, got 86 yards on 15 carries from Joel Miller in the first half.
"Our running game has been struggling, and the key was to try to get on top of these guys early and work the ground game," Wharton coach David Mitchell said. "We wanted to develop some confidence in our running game, which we did tonight."
Wharton went up early on a 34-yard scoring strike from Chris Krcmar to a wide-open Ryan Dixon.
After the first of many Wesley Chapel fumbles, Miller took it in from 23 yards out to make it 14-0.
Frustrated Wesley Chapel coach John Castelamare substituted nearly his whole offense, desperately looking for someone who could hold onto the ball. However, Wharton's defensive line, including Josh Miller and Joshua Jones, was busy hawking it on every play.
"Our downline and linebackers were getting to the football much better than they have been. Much better than I expected them to," Mitchell said. "I'm proud of them, but it's come from hard work in practice."
By halftime, Wharton led 33-0 and began playing its subs.
One bright spot for Wesley Chapel was the play of linebacker Vince Chalecki, who was seemingly in on every tackle and even broke a couple of nice runs from his fullback position on offense.
Senior quarterback Ryan Koesling also came off the bench to pass for 93 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter.
"We're just making one or two big mistakes that are costing us the game," Chalecki said.