GIBSONTON — Chris Carpentier had completed just three passes all night. East Bay’s ground game was what had gotten the Indians, who trailed early, back into a tie with Plant City.
Still, with East Bay on the 4-yard line with 11 seconds to go, the Indians quarterback promised coach Frank LaRosa he could throw for a winning score.
“I trusted my senior quarterback,” LaRosa said Friday night.
So instead of kicking a short field goal to win, LaRosa sent Carpentier under center on fourth down. It backfired as Carpentier’s throw landed in the hands of Plant City’s Peyton Collins.
However, Carpentier eventually made good on his promise, throwing a 23-yard TD pass to Anton Crutcher in overtime as East Bay won 19-13, handing Plant City its first loss of the year.
“It was incredible. Just making up for mistakes that happened earlier: missed catches, missed opportunities, bad throws,” Carpentier said. “We just came up in the time of need.”
Plant City dominated the first half as quarterback Landon Galloway rushed for 74 yards and an 8-yard touchdown despite throwing a pair of interceptions. Hassan Bailey added a 5-yard TD run — the extra point was missed — to give the Raiders a 13-0 halftime lead.
East Bay had only 48 total yards at the break. But when the Indians came out for the second half, they did so with a renewed spirit, said running back Chris Greene, who had 70 of his 84 rushing yards after halftime.
“We can count on him to keep plugging, keep going, keep going,” LaRosa said of Greene. “We said, ‘Hey, let’s feed the beast. Let’s put the football in his hands and let him take us there.’ ”
And Greene did. The senior scored two 5-yard touchdowns in regulation. After the second, however, kicker Eric Morgan missed the go-ahead extra point, leaving the game tied at 13 with 10:28 left in regulation.
Plant City, which put up 40 points last week against Bloomingdale, stalled on offense against East Bay. Galloway completed just one of nine attempts after the break.
The Raiders got the ball first in overtime and faced third and goal at the 2-yard line. While attempting his second score of the night, Galloway fumbled during a run up the middle and the Indians recovered. The first-year quarterback dropped his head to the turf in despair.
East Bay had lost 14 fumbles in the previous five games, but it was Galloway’s that kept Plant City off the board and gave the Indians the chance for their winning touchdown.
LaRosa was ecstatic about his team’s last-minute heroics, for more reasons than one.
“Our kids bailed me out, what can I say?” he chuckled. “I bail them out when they’re late to class, and they bail me out when I make a bad decision on fourth down.”