By: Katherine Smith
The Tampa Tribune
September 9, 2011
After one quarter of play between the two oldest high schools in Tampa, it looked like Hillsborough was going to beat Plant for the first time since 2005. But then the second, third and fourth quarters happened with the Panthers (2-0) scoring 36 unanswered points to close out the game and beat Hillsborough (1-0) 36-6 at Chelo Huerta Field for its fifth consecutive win in the series.
“Football is a game of making plays. We didn’t make any plays in the first quarter,” Plant coach Robert Weiner said. “And then on two really busted plays, we threw the ball to Austin Aikens and he goes makes two plays and then we’re on a roll.”
Aikens (3 receptions, 73 yards, 2 touchdowns) capitalized on one of Hillsborough four turnovers when he caught one of his two leaping touchdown passes, a 29-yarder from senior quarterback James Few with 4:33 remaining in the first half. After a sluggish start, including an interception, that was the first of Few’s six-consecutive completions, three of which were touchdowns.
Plant fell behind by six in the first quarter after a sluggish start. But then the offense sprang to life. Few closed out Plant’s scoring in the second quarter with a two-yard touchdown run, a scoring drive that was aided by Aikens 37-yard reception, to give the Panthers a 17-6 halftime lead. Things looked promising for the Terriers in the first quarter when a seven-play, 52-yard scoring drive ended with senior quarterback Jeremy Agrinzonis’ one-yard touchdown run. Senior running back Anthony Brown (10 carries, 58 yards) was also picking up huge chunks of yardage against Plant’s defense.
But the momentum shifted in Plant’s favor after the first turnover and Hillsborough never regained it. Plant’s defense held the Terriers to only 23 yards in the second half. Unlike Plant, who scored on three of the Terriers turnovers, Hillsborough was unable to capitalize on Few’s first-quarter interception, missing a 32-yard field goal attempt. “We threw the ball and ran the ball, then missed a field goal,” Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said. “We had 26 plays in the first quarter and a half, then turned the ball over. They made two jump balls and then penalties hurt us and we had more turnovers. Those turnovers killed us. “It was self inflicted, but they did a good job.”
Hillsborough has to regroup in time to host Newsome, which nearly upset Jefferson, while Plant travels to Bradenton Manatee to take on New Jersey’s Bergen Catholic.
“I think every week you want to take a step forward and we took a step forward tonight against a very, very good team that’s got great speed and they’ve got great size on the line,” Weiner said. “We took a step forward tonight of being able to fight through the same kind of malaise (we had against Columbus) at the beginning of the game and then we were able to get into a rhythm and then get a flow.”
H — Agrinzonis 1 run (kick blocked)
P — Van Aman 30 FG
P — Aikens 29 pass from Few (Van Aman kick)
P — Few 2 run
P — Mann 10 pass from Few (Van Aman kick)
P — Aikens 7 pass from Few (Van Aman kick)
P — Van Aman 37 FG
P — King tackled in end zone for safety