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PLANT CITY — Just minutes before the lights went off at Raider Stadium for the final time this fall, Plant City coach Wayne Ward stood alone trying to pluck any explanation out of the brisk eastern Hillsborough County air.
Over the past eight days the Raiders’ season unraveled — Plant City went from undefeated to out of the playoff picture. For all intents and purposes, this was the end of their season, and no words seemed appropriate.
“I didn’t know what to say to them,” said Ward, a former star on the same field.
Plant City’s 28-13 loss to district rival Newsome on senior night served as the cruel dagger for a Raiders team three years in the making. The Wolves (5-4, 3-2) dealt Plant City (7-2, 3-2) its second straight district loss and — combined with Durant’s 63-12 win over Riverview — the Raiders didn’t make the postseason.
“It was almost like self-destruction,” Ward said. “That’s the hardest thing. We know we should be in a better situation. We controlled our own destiny.”
Newsome’s fourth straight win over Plant City was paced by senior quarterback Will Worth, who ran the Wolves’ option offense for 306 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries — Newsome ran 47 offensive plays — and threw for a score. Worth also played every defensive down at linebacker.
“You get a little physically tired, but it’s all mental and you keep pushing through knowing your teammates are working hard for you,” Worth said. “We weren’t the district champs this year, but we wanted to get something out of it. We all came to work this week and we came out focused.”
Newsome orchestrated a 19-play drive that put the Wolves up 14-6 and ate up 10:41 in the second quarter, culminating in a 1-yard Worth keeper with 1:19 left.
“Our guys played well,” Newsome coach Ken Hiscock said. “We’re going to give the ball to the guy who is going to carry this team, and that’s Will Worth. That’s our game plan.”
Worth ate up the Plant City defense for huge chunks of yardage on the ground, including back-to-back runs of 43 and 28 yards on a three-play, 75-yard drive midway through the third quarter to put Newsome up 21-6.
“Coming into the game, I knew he was the guy they were going get behind,” Ward said of Worth. “We didn’t have an answer for him on the defensive side of the ball.”
The Raiders had two passing touchdowns called back by penalties and another catch in the end zone called out of bounds.
After Newsome went up 28-13 on a 15-yard pass from Worth to Jorge Thompson with 11:49 remaining, Plant City drove inside the Newsome 1-yard line but went from the shotgun and threw an incomplete pass on fourth down just inches from the goal line.
“It shouldn’t come down to that 1 yard, but in the game of football it does,” Ward said. “We had several opportunities. There were certain areas where we didn’t take advantage.
Plant City quarterback Bennie Coney was 25-for-36 for 304 yards and two touchdowns. Raiders leading rusher Dazmond Patterson, who played sparingly despite an ankle injury, was used mainly as a receiving decoy and was visibly limping while running routes.