Plant’s Austin Aikens returned the opening kick-off 80 yards for a touchdown, while the Panther defense forced 4 turnovers in a 36-0 homecoming victory over Tampa Bay Tech.
The Panthers (4-0) scored all of their 36 points in the first half that was capped off by an Antonio Crawford 90-yard interception return for a touchdown. Crawford also ran for a score, while QB James Few threw two touchdowns on the night.
For the season, the Plant defense has now allowed only 33 points in four games (8.3 ppg).
The Titans now fall to 2-3 on the season.
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)
By: Eduardo Encina
St. Pete Times
October 1, 2011
Even after his football team opened its homecoming game with Tampa Bay Tech Friday night with a flurry of points — 29 in the first 16 minutes — Plant coach Robert Weiner felt the Panthers were playing right into the Titans’ hands.
Plant’s seniors didn’t need to be reminded of the last time the Titans visited Dads Stadium two years ago, when TBT came back from 24 down with 19 minutes to go to quiet South Tampa with an excruciating two-point defeat.
“We jumped up on them before,” Plant senior safety Drew Madhu said. “So we always had in the back of our mind that we had to keep working. We couldn’t take anything for granted.”
But there was no defensive collapse Friday night — only a second half full of penalties — as Plant defeated the Titans 36-0.
Coming off its bye week, Plant forced four first-half turnovers — the dagger being Antonio Crawford’s 88-yard interception return for a touchdown with 61 seconds left in the first half to put the Panthers up 36-0.
Plant went up 15-0 in the game’s first five minutes. Austin Aikens returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown, and after a TBT three and out, Plant capitalized on a short field, scoring in six plays on a 2-yard Crawford run.
“They kind of took us out of our element,” TBT coach Jayson Roberts said. “It forced us to hurry up and get in that catchup mode. We gave ourselves self-inflicted wounds that in the end we couldn’t recover from.”
Plant held TBT to just 88 yards total offense, including 20 yards in the first half.
“We showed people we’re a lot more talented than some people think and that we’re working hard every week and that our defense is for real,” Crawford said.
The teams combined for 31 penalties for 292 yards.
by Katherine Smith
Sep 29, 2011
There’s no place like home for the Plant Panthers.
Dad’s Stadium has been the ultimate home field advantage for Plant. In the past five years, beginning with their perfect season in 2006, the Panthers are 37-3 at home.
Their lone losses were to Armwood in 2010 and 2008 and Tampa Bay Tech in 2009.
That loss to the Titans isn’t far from Plant players’ minds. The Panthers opened the season to Tech that year and were up 24-0 before the Titans staged an incredible comeback and defeated Plant 32-30.
“I will never forget that game. I still think about it all the time,” said Panthers senior defensive lineman Patrick Wright (19 tackles, 2 sacks). “That was probably one of the most devastating losses. I know we’re fired up for them to come back here again.’’
Tech comes into this game averaging 255.5 rushing yards per game. They’re led by senior back Cludner Lecount, who has posted two 100-plus yard games this season.
Plant’s defense, with playmakers Wright, leading tackler Mike Tate and secondary standouts Drew Madhu and Antonio Crawford, will counter Tech’s ground game with an attack that’s held opponents to an average of 107.3 rushing yards and no 100-plus yard single rushers.
“We’re a gap controlled defense so if everyone holds their gap, there’s no where to run,’’ Wright said. “That’s how we shut it down.’’
James Wilder cuts through a hole in the TBT defense. PHOTO BY: BILL WARD Tampa Tribune
By: Katherine Smith
September 4, 2010
TAMPA – When the Plant Panthers hand out game balls, they might want to toss one to the Tampa Bay Tech concessions staff.
Apparently, the chicken they served was the difference in the second
half for James Wilder, the Panthers’ senior two-way starter, who took
over the game and helped avenge last year’s loss to the Titans. Plant
hung on for a 10-0 victory against Tech in front of a standing-room-only
crowd at the Titans’ stadium.
I don’t know if the chicken was fried or what, but it was frozen and
I knew I needed to eat it to get right, Wilder said. They fed me that
and I got right.
Wilder picked up 52 of his 78 rushing yards in the second half and
recovered a Tech fumble with less than two minutes remaining to help
seal the victory.
Feeling a bit woozy in the first half because of a stomach virus,
Wilder emerged from the locker room with a belly full of chicken and a
He came out like an animal, Plant coach Robert Weiner said. First
on defense, he was all over the place. And then, as we’ve done it
before, we just put the ball in his hands to seal the game.
Putting the ball in his hands became a necessity after quarterback
Phillip Ely aggravated the ankle injury he sustained last week in the
loss to Bradenton Manatee. Ely led the Panthers into the end zone on an
11-play drive to take the lead 7-0 with 6:44 remaining in the first
quarter. On Plant’s next offensive series, Ely had to be helped off the
field after he was sacked and fumbled.
He returned after sitting out one series and led Plant to the Titans’
8-yard line, but another turnover on fourth-and-goal kept the Panthers
out of the end zone.
Plant, which had five unsportsmanlike penalties, turned the ball over
again at the beginning of the third quarter, but Tech failed to
capitalize despite having first-and-goal at the Panthers’ 9-yard line. A
false-start penalty, a sack and an incomplete pass brought up
fourth-and-goal. Tech lined up for a field goal, but faked it with a
direct snap to the kicker, who was tackled behind the line of scrimmage.
Plant controlled the clock for most of the fourth quarter and got a
key special-teams play from junior Austin Aikens, who downed a Plant
punt at the Titans’ 1-yard line.
That series resulted in Wilder’s recovered fumble and led to Grant Van Aman’s 37-yard field goal.
We’ll see them again. This was just Volume 1, Tech coach C.C.
Culpepper said. I hate to say that I am happy because we did lose, but
we built some character. We learned a lot. We’ll build and we’ll be
P – Ely 1 yard run (Van Aman kick)
P – FG Van Aman 37 yards