State flag football: Stuart Martin County 19, Plant 6
TAMPA — For much of Friday's Class 2A state flag football semifinal at Robinson High, it appeared Plant was in command.
But in the second half, passes started flying willy nilly off the hands of Panthers' receivers and into the arms of an opposing player — or they simply flew off the mark.
The interceptions — six in all — piled up, and in the end Plant fell in a heartbreaker to Stuart Martin County, 19-6.
"We simply didn't execute as well as we have been," Plant coach Bo Puckett said. "We had balls right in our hands that bounced off our hands and into their hands. It was rough."
At halftime, Plant not only held a 6-0 lead but a great deal of the momentum after making most of the first-half big plays: including an 18-yard touchdown pass to Panther Madison Huszar in the second quarter and an interception by Payton Paro at the Plant 10-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The biggest trouble for Plant occurred midway through the third quarter when Martin County returned an interception about 40 yards for a touchdown. The second crucial mistake happened in the fourth quarter when Martin County returned another interception 20 yards for another score.
"But we have a lot to look forward to," Puckett said. "A lot of our starters are underclassmen. We want to get back here. I think we will."
Paro, who despite the interceptions still completed 22 of 39 passes for 256 yards and touchdown on Friday, is one of the juniors returning.