TAMPA — As Tampa Bay Tech counted down the seconds of Friday’s 14-7 victory over Plant, it talked of shocking the world. The euphoria was exaggerated, but the win will make the rest of the bay area take notice.
A week after Colby Brown set a school record by throwing for 517 yards against Bloomingdale, he and the Panthers were stifled, held to fewer than 100 yards passing and fewer than 200 overall.
“We told the kids all week long that we expect to win,” TBT coach Jayson Roberts said. “We don’t expect to be competitive. We don’t expect to be in the game. We expect to win the game. We just felt like we had the capability with our athletes and the game plan that my coordinators put in, especially on the defensive side, to really stifle them.”
The Titans (4-1) didn’t make things easy for themselves, however. Up 14-7 with less than two minutes remaining and having just forced a punt, they gave the ball right back after a shotgun snap went over Deon Cain’s head.
The Panthers recovered at the Titans 22, but a block in the back on first down pushed them back to the 41. On third down, Brown lofted a pass toward the goal line that was intercepted by Tajee Fullwood.
“I was thinking, ‘This can’t be happening.’ We did the exact same thing last year,” Roberts said of a 21-14 loss. “But if anything, I believe in our defense. And I knew that those guys would answer the challenge.”
Plant (3-1-1), which had won 14 in a row against Hillsborough County teams since losing 21-0 to Armwood on Oct. 28, 2011, drove from its 8 to the TBT 8 on its first series. But Alexander Jackson fumbled.
On the ensuing series, Cain ran 53 yards to the Plant 28 on third down. Deon Thompson (23 carries, 121 yards) ran it in on the next play.
TBT missed the extra point but went ahead 14-0 in the second quarter on Thompson’s 2-yard run set up by Isaiah Brown’s interception in Panthers territory. Cain found Elijah Spann for the two-point conversion.
On the ensuing drive, Plant drove into the red zone, converting a fourth and 3 at the TBT 29 after a facemask. Jackson, though, fumbled for the second time near the goal line, and the Titans recovered.
The Titans soon fumbled it back, and Kyle Henderson ran 8 yards untouched through the middle of the defense to trim the deficit to seven points.
Besides the fumbles, Plant also had three interceptions and a multitude of penalties.
“We made it our business to not let (Brown) escape the pocket,” Roberts said.
“Micah Tucker, our defensive end, did a great job of forcing him backward and not letting him get to the edge. I think that really kind of offset what they wanted to do offensively.”
The Titans broke a three-year losing streak to Plant.
Said Fullwood: “We finally broke that curse.”