PLANT CITY — In a crosstown rivalry with humongous district implications and something called the James L. Redman Memorial Cup at stake, the Plant City Raiders knew they’d need a bit more than their A-game.
So they brought their AA-game. More specifically, a lanky kid named Antwon Amstrong.
The 6-foot-1 senior had a career-best three interceptions, all at or inside his 10-yard line, and helped quarterback Bennie Coney deliver arguably his sharpest performance in a Plant City uniform as the Raiders (5-0, 2-0) trounced Durant 43-12.
Plant City is 5-0 for the first time since 1998 and behind the wheel of the 7A-8 district race.
“All the Facebook battles (with Durant players), all the MySpace battles, we came out and showed up and played,” Amstrong said.
Operating mostly out of a roomy pocket, Coney completed 13 of his 15 passes for 377 yards and five TDs, exploiting Durant’s single coverage.
“I think I only got sacked two plays and that was because it was my fault,” Coney said. “I held the ball too long.”
Two of Coney’s TD throws — a 64-yarder to Joe Davis and a 9-yarder to Lamarlin Wiggins — came on third down. With Coney in the game, Plant City was 6-for-7 on third down.
“I thought they were going to run a little more zone (defense), but I guess they figured that they were going to try to put a lot of heat on us and get to the quarterback,” Raiders coach Wayne Ward said. “But our offensive line did a pretty good job of holding them off and gave Bennie some time to throw the football. He did a great job tonight.”
Amstrong, who also had three catches for 81 yards and a TD, nearly upstaged Coney.
Following Ward’s 9-yard TD pass to Wiggins, which gave Plant City a 28-12 lead late in the third, Durant (3-2, 1-1) drove 77 yards to the Plant City 3 in 15 plays.
But on the 16th, Amstrong made a one-handed snag of a Nick Fabrizio pass in his own end zone, and Plant City answered with an 85-yard scoring drive. His third pick came at his 10-yard line on Durant’s next drive, setting up Coney’s short swing pass to tailback Dazmond Patterson, who transformed it into a 73-yard TD.
“(Amstrong) came out tonight and had an incredible game,” Ward said. “I knew the kid had it in him.”