CITRA — There were no words. No excuses, either.
And there was also no real reasons as to why, after all the adversity the Pirates had faced, that they were handed their first first-round playoff loss since 2009.
“You can’t win every time,” coach Tom McHugh said. “It’s a life lesson that you don’t always get what you want. It’s amazing how life parallels football and teaches you that, sometimes, there’s someone better than you. And tonight, the better team won.”
“(Tonight’s) indescribable — there’s no other way to say it,” Pasco defensive lineman Jacob Morphew added.
And the better team, on a windy and rainy Friday night, was Citra North Marion, which defeated Pasco 17-7 at Stan Toole Stadium in a Class 5A-Region 2 quarterfinal.
However, the Pirates, who started the season 2-3 only to win five straight to make the playoffs, started the game with a bang.
Senior Malik Johns took the opening kickoff 92 yards for the quick lead in just 14 seconds. The Colts (9-3) would counter on the next drive, though the Pirates (7-4) held them to a 27-yard David Hatcher field goal.
The defenses would stall the opposing offenses, and the game went to halftime with a 7-3 Pasco lead.
“Our seniors, you look at them after this game, and you see they left everything on the field — played their hearts out and I couldn’t be prouder,” McHugh said. “They’re like my kids, and like that. You don’t always get your way. We had to finish the second half.”
“I thought we did a good job in the first half, but the second half got away from us,” added Morphew, who had a sack and a tackle for a loss. “We, as a defense, had to finish.”
North Marion took its first lead at 7:17 in the third quarter when Javontres Autry took a screen pass from quarterback Caleb Seiler 57 yards for the score. And on the first play of the fourth, running back James Allen, who had 69 yards rushing on 17 carries, scored on a 12-yard run.
However, Pasco, including Johns who rushed 19 times for 55 yards and even connected for two big pass plays with Nate Craig, was held scoreless in the second half and had just 137 yards of total offense.
“You can’t win if you don’t score,” Johns said. “I’m ... I’m heartbroken tonight because this is my family. I thought there was more I could do for us on the field so we could come away with a win. I wanted to do more than my part so this wasn’t our last game, but I love these guys and this school. ... I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Pasco 7 0 0 0 — 7
N. Marion 3 0 7 7 — 17
P - Johns 92 kickoff return (Coats kick)
NM - FG Hatcher 27
NM - Autry 57 pass from Seiler (Hatcher kick)
NM - Allen 12 run (Hatcher kick)