By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 26, 2000
DADE CITY -- For a few minutes Friday night, the 2000 Pirates looked like the Pasco of old.
Sophomore quarterback Ben Alford, in his first start, threw early and often to star wideout Joe Bain. The Pasco defense plugged holes and flew to the ball. The running game showed its usual potential.
But they just ran ... out ... of gas.
South Sumter defeated host Pasco 21-7 in a preseason Kickoff Classic at W.F. Edwards Stadium that was not as close as the score.
The Pirates' lack of depth was exposed, their conditioning found suspect and their blocking unraveled as the first half ended. Those problems were compounded in the second half, as a deep and fresh Raiders' squad ran away with the game.
"We saw a lot of good things," Pasco coach Ricky Thomas said. "But we made too many mistakes. Ben played an outstanding game, and Joe played well, too.
"But we don't have much depth," he said. "I don't know if we have enough gas in the tank (to go four quarters), but we'll do the best we can."
The Raiders' LaCory Benjamin took the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, and South Sumter's defense recovered a fumble by Alford in the first quarter. But an outstretched Brice Summerall dropped a 21-yard touchdown pass.
Alford marched the Pirates down the field, taking advantage of a pass interference call against the Raiders and going 3-of-4 for 41 yards, hitting Bain with a 9-yard score to tie the game.
South Sumter marched 80 yards on eight plays on the next drive, which ended when A.J. Bryant hit Summerall on an inside screen pass that he took 26 yards to the end zone to take a 14-7 lead. The Raiders scored in the third on Ben Moffitt's 4-yard scoring plunge to go up 21-7.
Alford proved a capable passer given time to throw, and tough and elusive under pressure -- which was often, as Pasco's pass blocking disintegrated in the last three quarters. He was 6-of-12 for 68-yards and a touchdown and an interception in the first half.
But playing both ways, the line quickly wore out; too much arm-tackling led to no tackling; and the Pirates' miscues, missed assignments and penalties piled up until the cannon sounded, ending the contest.