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FOOTBALL: Tarpon blasts Dunedin

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Published:   |   Updated: September 23, 2013 at 04:17 PM

DUNEDIN — Tarpon Springs showed that it’s more than just a one-man show Friday night.

Playing without leading rusher Michael Ford (shoulder), the Spongers delivered a well-rounded performance in beating nearby rival Dunedin, 44-7.

“A lot of people want to say that all we have is Michael Ford,” said Tarpon Springs coach Ron Hawn, “but clearly we play pretty good defense and clearly we have a few other running backs and athletes.”

Patrick Miller (17 carries for 110 yards, 2 TDs) and Montel Johnson (15 for 61, TD) neutralized the impact of Ford’s absence. The duo combined for Tarpon Springs’ three first-quarter touchdowns and the Spongers didn’t look back.

Friday was both teams’ first Class 5A District 8 game of the season, meaning Tarpon Springs (3-1, 1-0) has an early leg up in the race for one of the league’s top-two seeds.

Dunedin’s lone score came in the second quarter when freshman quarterback Janero Crankfield, filling in for the Givanni Gonzalez, threaded an 8-yard pass to receiver Jayvon Fitzpatrick. Crankfield went 4 of 8 for 23 yards, the touchdown and an interception and ran for a team-high 62 yards on 18 attempts.

“That kid can really fly,” Hawn said of Crankfield. “We were pretty aggressive and trying to get after him. We gave up a couple plays here and there because we were playing aggressive, but that’s going to happen.”

Tarpon Springs also started a backup under center for the second straight week. Junior Brandon Casler settled in nicely this week, completing 7 of 8 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Johnson (49 yards) and Mitchell Wilcox (23 yards) for the scores.

“We’re real happy with [Casler] right now,” Hawn said. “He’s doing a great job for us.”

Johnson turned in an impact performance, adding 90 receiving yards and the touchdown on five catches.

The Spongers defense held Dunedin (1-3, 0-1) to 87 total yards, forced three turnovers, picked up four sacks and recorded a safety when Wilcox tripped up Crankfield behind the goal line. After being shutout the previous two weeks, the Falcons have now been outscored 122-7 by its last three opponents.

“I thought we adjusted pretty well, tackled really well and played really aggressive,” Hawn said of his defense’s night.

Maurice Turner, who picked off a pass in the third quarter, capped Tarpon Springs’ scoring by running back the post-safety free kick 71 yards.

Casler, Miller and Johnson accounted for 289 of the Spongers’ 308 total net yardage.

Both teams will be on the road for non-district games next week.

Tarpon Springs heads to East Lake (4-0) for its annual cross-town rivalry clash.

Dunedin travels south to take on Osceola High (3-1).

SCORING:

TC - 21 – 0 – 14 – 9 --- 44

TS - 0 – 7 – 0 – 0 --- 7

TS – Miller 3-yard run. PAT kick (Zervos) – 1st Quarter (6:27)

TS – Johnson 1-yard run. PAT kick (Zervos) – 1st Quarter (3:07)

TS – Miller 2-yard run. PAT kick (Zervos) – 1st Quarter (0:14)

DHS – Fitzpatrick 8-yard pass from Crankfield. PAT kick (Deely) – 2nd Quarter (2:37)

TS – Johnson 49-yard pass from Casler. – 3rd Quarter (11:04)

TS – Wilcox 23-yard pass from Casler. PAT kick (Serafianos) – 3rd Quarter (0:48)

TS – Safety (Crankfield sacked by Wilson) – 4th Quarter (11:52)

TS – Turner 71-yard kick return. PAT kick (Zervos) – 4th Quarter (11:31)

TEAM STATS:

-----------------------TS-------DHS

First Downs---------14---------10

Atts./Rush Yds.---39-180----32-64

Comp./Atts./Int.—7-8-0----4-9-1

Passing Yds.--------128-------23

Total Offense------308-------87

Fumbles/Lost-------1-1-------2-2

Punts/Avg.---------1-40.0---2-22.0

Penalties----------9-98-------5-55

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS:

RUSHING

TS – Miller (17-110, 2 TD), Johnson (15-61, TD).

DHS – Crankfield (18-62).

PASSING

TS – Casler (7-8 for 128, 2 TD).

DHS – Crankfield (4-8 for 23, TD, INT).

RECEIVING

TS – Johnson (4-90, TD), Wilcox (1-23, TD).

DHS – Fitzpatrick (1-8, TD), Martinez (1-8).

ehorchy@suncoastnews.com

(727) 815-1071

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