Rockledge 31, Land O'Lakes 7

Rockledge has too many weapons on both sides of the ball, stymieing the Gators.

By IZZY GOULD, Times Staff Writer
Published November 17, 2007

LAND O'LAKES - Land O'Lakes ran into a talented Rockledge group with plenty of speed, talent and inspiration en route to a 31-7 win Friday in a Class 4A region quarterfinal at Gator Stadium.

"In the 10 games we played we haven't faced any competition like we faced tonight," Land O'Lakes coach John Benedetto said. "They were a lot quicker and a lot stronger than we were. Pasco County football has a long way to go."

Before Benedetto could blink, the Raiders 8-3 were headed into halftime with a 24-point lead. Rockledge coach Pat Lusk said his Raiders were vulnerable to the pass. Land O'Lakes came out trying to run it but was held to minus-10 rushing yards.

"We've had two or three times we've held opponents to negative rushing yardage," Lusk said. "We're only giving up 50 yards a game."

The Rockledge offense answered with speed. Three players rushed for at least 50 yards and a touchdown, including quarterback Doug Goins, who ran 11 times for a game-high 161 yards and two touchdowns.

When Land O'Lakes was hoping for a momentous second-half comeback, Goins broke free for a 91-yard touchdown run on the Raiders' first play from scrimmage in the third quarter for a 31-0 lead.

The Gators (9-2) struggled with the pass, rotating senior Ely Payne and freshman Stevie Weatherford. The duo combined for 122 passing yards, but many of those plays came between the 20s. While Land O'Lakes was forced to punt on each possession of the first half, the Raiders turned each of theirs into scoring opportunities.

"Film can be deceiving," Benedetto said. "We did know they had a great defense and that it would give our offense trouble."

In his final walk to the locker room, Payne was comforted by family.

"They're a fast team," he said. "We just weren't ready."

Izzy Gould can be reached at izzygould@gmail.com or (727) 580-5315.

Rockledge 31 Land O'Lakes 7