TAMPA — The Panthers escaped the teams' Class 5A, District 5 opener despite Philip Ely's four interceptions. The first deflected off the chest pads of the receiver.
"Sometimes, you get a bad break and it can get you in a funk," coach Rob Weiner said. "Philip is a great player. He took a deep breath, and you've got to tribute him for that."
Ely, who has orally committed to Alabama, completed all four of his second-half passes for Plant (4-2).
Gaither quarterback Shug Oyegunle had to scramble often but managed to extend plays, including a 5-yard rushing touchdown in the first half. Down eight with about 5:30 left, the Cowboys got the ball then drove to the Panthers 20. But a fourth-down interception sealed it.
"Gaither came to play a great game," Weiner said.
Bobby Winsler, Times correspondent