TAMPA — Sitting in a golf cart near midfield Friday night, Plant coach Robert Weiner had more on his mind than the Panthers’ 35-7 loss to Miami Columbus in a preseason game at Dads Stadium.
Weiner’s left knee was bandaged and iced, the result of a misstep he made during Plant’s pregame sprint to the field. With Weiner sidelined and unable to wear headphones, the Panthers struggled — particularly in the first seven minutes.
Plant punter Grant Van Aman had his first two kicks blocked, the latter recovered in the end zone by Columbus’ Gabriel Perez for the first touchdown. Less than two minutes later, Panther quarterback Aaron Banks had the football ripped away by Jordan Guest, who returned it 8 yards for a 14-0 lead.
“You can’t give them 14 points for free,” Weiner said. “(Give) all the credit to (Columbus). They’re a little more advanced than we are at this particular point.”
Plant was held to 87 yards on 45 plays. The Panthers’ quarterback tandem of James Few and Banks had nine plays result in negative yardage. The Panthers also committed nine penalties for 99 yards. Their lone score came on 69-yard, 12-play drive in the second quarter, capped by Banks’ 9-yard TD run.
Weiner was injured as the team raced through the stadium tunnel. “I took a left-hand turn and one of our guys was crossing my path,” he said. “I tried to get out of his way … I just stepped on his foot and twisted my ankle (and) landed on my knee. It got real, real swollen and I got it drained at halftime. As a 46-year-old man, I’m not quite as nimble as I once was.”