TAMPA — Plant had two weeks to prepare for its road test Friday against Tampa Bay Tech. With an important district game against next week the Panthers were either going to steamroll the Titans or they were heading into a trap.
Early in the Panthers' 21-14 victory it looked as if the Panthers had been snared as TBT jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind patient inside running from senior Richard Benjamin.
But the Panthers tied it at 14 just before the end of the first half. They got all they needed in the second half on a 5-yard scamper by senior Wesley Bullock to put them up 21-14. Then the defense took over led, by senior linebacker Mitchell Wright, and shut down a late drive that made it the Panther 35-yard line.
Benjamin picked his way through the middle of the defense, piling up 90 yards and a touchdown in the first half. The Panthers (3-1) went nowhere on their first two drives. Quarterback Aaron Banks was knocked out of the game after completing 16 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
Then the Panthers made some adjustments, limited Benjamin in the second half and turned loose Wright in the Titan backfield.
"There's one special thing we do to get Mitchell involved in the game," Panthers coach Robert Weiner said. "We put him on the field and he does the rest."
Wright had three solo tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, a tackle for loss, a pass defended and when they tried to throw a screen in behind him, he even sniffed that out.
The Titans (3-2) found some room completing passes on the outside in the second half. Running back Deon Thompson had a 73-yard catch-and-run along with a 16-yard TD run in the first half.