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Land O'Lakes holds off Pasco in overtime

The Pirates battle back to tie the game with 4:30 remaining, but the Gators' defense comes up strong.

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published September 23, 2006


LAND O'LAKES - Friday's contest between Pasco and Land O'Lakes was so hard-hitting, so physical and so taxing coach Dale Caparaso pulled a muscle in his right calf just trying to steer his team to its first victory of the season.

But as much as Caparaso's calf was hurting him, it was another gut-wrenching loss that hurt even more.

For the second straight game the Pirates fell in overtime, dropping a 28-22 decision to the Gators.

Pasco was coming off an overtime loss to Sebring on Monday in a game delayed by bad weather last week and fell to 0-5.

"Losing in overtime is tough," Caparaso said. "Losing twice in five days is even tougher. You guys have no idea. It would be like missing two deadlines in a row and getting fired."

Friday's win by Land O'Lakes was marred by a brawl afterward between the teams. One Pasco player's face was covered with blood, and a number of players from both teams got involved in fisticuffs. Ten minutes after the game ended, no one seemed to remember the thrilling finish. But the Gators (3-1) got a 2-yard run in overtime from Jerome Blyden and then stopped Pasco on four straight running plays.

Pasco trailed the whole game, the biggest margin 19-7 midway through the third quarter after Dontarrius Thompson caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Joe Weatherford. After Pasco scored a touchdown, a Land O'Lakes field goal made it 22-14 heading into the fourth quarter. The Pirates relied on a bruising ground game to churn out an 80-yard drive in 11 plays capped by McClain Bryant's 10-yard touchdown run a two-point conversion to tie the game with four minutes, 30 seconds remaining. Each team had to punt before the Gators got the ball back with 25 seconds remaining.

But Weatherford threw his third interception to give the ball back to Pasco in field-goal territory with 21 seconds remaining.

Pasco ran a pass play and could not get to the line of scrimmage in time to stop the clock, sending the game to overtime.