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TAMPA — Orlando Dr. Phillips brought offensive power to Dads Stadium on Friday night with Boise State commitment Nick Patti at quarterback and former major-league home run hitter Ken Griffey Jr. in the stands to watch his son Trey.
Plant senior linebacker Mike Tate reminded everyone that defense counts even more. He had two of his team’s five turnovers — all leading to 28 points — as Plant continued its quest for a fourth state championship with a 49-13 victory in a Class 8A region semifinal.
Senior quarterback James Few remained hot, throwing four touchdowns after a career-high six-TD effort in last week’s win over Orlando Boone. But it was the Plant defense that set the tone. It forced eight fumbles (recovered three) and intercepted Patti twice.
“We knew (Patti) was a running quarterback and that we had to contain him,” said Tate, who had an interception, fumble recovery and deflected two passes. “We were told that we just need to be physical with him. All quarterbacks are going to give up if you’re physical with them. (After halftime) we ran a lot more blitzes to the right because he was rolling that way. That really helped.”
Plant, which was never threatened after Antonio Crawford’s 98-yard kickoff return early in the second quarter increased his team’s lead to 21-7, gave Patti (16-of-38, 169 yards, one TD) fits in the second half. He completed only 6 of 18 passes for 29 yards after intermission, as Dr. Phillips was held to 9 yards on 32 plays.
“Our coaches talked the game up all week and said that we were equally matched,” Tate said. “All we had to do was execute and be physical with them.”
Few threw only 14 passes, completing nine for 120 yards. Two of his touchdown passes went to Dereck Mann. Wesley Bullock also scored twice and had 107 yards rushing on 15 carries. Trey Griffey, a senior wide receiver for Dr. Phillips, caught eight passes for 85 yards.
The game got chippy in the second half with both teams combining for more penalty yards (160) than offensive yards (110). Plant’s final touchdown came with 1:39 left on a 15-yard pass from Kyle Groh to Walker Barnes.