TAMPA — As Armwood’s players celebrated the touchdown that cut Plant’s lead to a point, Paris Bostick picked his crestfallen teammate off the turf and told him to forget all about it.
There would be more plays to come in overtime. In fact, Bostick told him, there was an extra-point on the upcoming play and the Panthers had another chance to end the game.
“Even though they scored,” said Bostick, a senior safety, “we did what we do and we kept fighting.”
With Armwood poised to kick the tying extra-point attempt, Plant’s Reeves Rogers swooped in from the edge and swatted away the ball to seal the Panthers’ 20-19 overtime victory Friday.
After being shut out in its two previous matchups, Plant (7-1) scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:19 left and did it again on the second play of overtime to break a 12-quarter streak of failing to reach the end zone against Armwood (6-3).
Running out of options and time, the Panthers turned to a couple of players who hadn’t touched the ball all game — senior defensive end Mitchell Wright and sophomore running back Patrick Brooks.
Trailing 10-6 with about three minutes left, Plant ran an end-around for Wright — that seemed doomed from the start when he was corralled in the backfield. But Wright wriggled out of the tackle and rushed 11 yards for a first down.
On the next play, quarterback Aaron Banks looked to Wright again and found him alone in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown with 2:19 remaining. It was the Panthers’ first touchdown against Armwood since James Wilder Jr. scored on a 22-yard run in their 17-7 win in 2009.
“We have faith in our offense,” Banks said. “We knew that we were going to make plays like we usually do.”
But Armwood wouldn’t go away. Coming off its first shutout since 2003 against Hillsborough, Armwood put star receiver Alvin Bailey under center and moved quarterback Darryl Richardson to tight end/receiver.
After sputtering for much of three quarters, Bailey finally put together the kind of drive he was known for during the Hawks’ undefeated march to the Class 6A state championship last year.
Bailey led a 13-play, 68-yard drive that culminated with Nick Feely’s game-tying 21-yard field goal. The drive was punctuated by Richardson’s leaping one-handed 22-yard catch that gave the Hawks first down at the 6.
“It’s only going to get better,” Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. “I think what we installed this week really had an affect on the game. Our offense is still a work in progress.”
Then in overtime, Plant coach Robert Weiner dialed up a special pass play for Brooks. Banks rolled out and dumped off the ball to Brooks, who slipped a tackle then dove for the end zone and the winning score.
“To drive in the end zone like he did,” Weiner said, “it was unbelievable. Our kids just don’t let up when they get down.”
The Hawks haven’t lost three regular-season games since 2002 or consecutive games since ’01. Since winning their first state championship in 2003, they’ve lost nine games.