TAMPA — Plant won again Friday night by using its best asset.
It wasn’t somebody in a helmet and pads, but they are deep, experienced and playoff tested — the Panthers’ coaches.
Coach Robert Weiner and his staff figured out a way to win with a solid game plan and resourceful in-game adjustments for a 48-31 win over Orlando Freedom in a Class 8A region quarterfinal.
With two starters on the offensive line out with the flu and Freedom’s Jeff Badet running all over it, Plant adapted and pulled away in the second half.
“You game plan all week, but it really comes down to what happens during the game,” Weiner said. “We were able to see a few things they were doing after they caught us in some bad packages, and we eventually made the adjustments. Our staff has just been great at that.”
Badet, a USF oral commitment who had 133 yards rushing and 65 receiving, gashed the Panthers for some long runs and touchdowns mostly as the conductor of the wildcat.
Plant, however, slowed him down in the second half. And running backs Wesley Bullock and Patrick Brooks led the offense.
Bullock caught a 37-yard touchdown and ran for a 3-yard touchdown run before separating his shoulder. Brooks picked up the slack with three touchdowns.
“Wesley was great, and we think he will be fine for next week,” Weiner said. “And I can’t say enough about the kid Brooks. He came out and was big.”
Tied at 17 late in the second quarter, the game turned when Freedom tried a fake punt on its 16 and was stopped. The Panthers scored a touchdown a few plays later and never trailed again.