Plant 36, Tampa Bay Tech 0, Final -TBO
The last time Plant got up big on Tampa Bay Tech at Dad’s Stadium, the Titans came from 24 points down to pull off the upset.
Plant got up big again, but unlike that 32-30 loss in 2009, the Panthers held on for a 36-0 victory Friday night, Plant’s homecoming. The Panthers improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2006 when they won their first of three state championships, while Tech fell to 2-3.
“We got at them pretty early and were able to put it away,” Plant coach Robert Weiner said. “We did remind the team of last time when we were in a similar situation.
“We wanted to make sure we closed the deal.”
Senior wide receiver Austin Aikens got the party started when he returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, his first of two scores. Then on the Panthers’ next possession, senior defensive back/running back Antonio Crawford scored his first of two touchdowns.
Plant’s offense and special teams weren’t the only units to put points on the board. Crawford returned one of the Plant defense’s three interceptions 94 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers defense also did a great job of shutting down the Titans’ ground game.
Tech entered Friday night’s game averaging more than 220 rushing yards a game. With leading tackler Mike Tate in the Titans’ backfield most of the night, the Panthers held Tech to 31 rushing yards and 86 yards of offense.
“Our defense has done a great job all season,” Weiner said.
Plant’s offense helped the defense by sustaining drives. Senior quarterback James Few threw for 137 passing yards and two touchdowns. Plant didn’t punt the ball until 3:59 remained in the third quarter.
The Titans were able to get a little something going when they opened the third quarter, but penalties (31 total, 18 against Plant) and back-to-back big plays by Plant senior safety Drew Madhu stalled Tech’s offense.
“Even though there were a lot of penalties, I think we did a good job of making sure that we controlled the game and that there wasn’t sloppy personal fouls,” Weiner said. “The game didn’t get chippy.
“It was played well both ways.”
P-Aikens 85 kickoff return (Van Aman kick)
P-Crawford 1 run (Banks run)
P-Aikens 32 pass from Few (run failed)
P-Casselli 21 pass from Few (Bostic run)
P-Crawford 94 interception return (Van Aman kick)