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The Panthers' crank up their defense and use three QBs while dismantling Jefferson.
Published Sep. 18, 2009

Last week, rain postponed Plant's shot at redemption, which meant Thursday's game against Jefferson at Dads Stadium couldn't come soon enough.

"If our coaches have to pump us up for this game, it's a problem," Plant linebacker Josh Varon said.

For the defending Class 4A champs, this short season has already been compounded by fourth-quarter failures, untimely injuries and rumors of the Panthers' demise.

But on Thursday, Plant got its groove back.

On the 17th day of September, the Panthers earned their first win of the season, and what a win it was. Plant dominated the Dragons 46-13, scoring 39 unanswered points after Jefferson scored on its opening possession.

"It was a really big win for us," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "We really needed something to get on track and get some momentum - not just a big win - we needed to play well."

The Panthers' defense clamped down on Jefferson quarterback Quentin Williams, sacking him six times, including three by junior defensive end James Wilder.

Plant (1-1) also dominated the game on the ground, scoring four rushing touchdowns, two apiece from T.J. Glover (team-high 111 yards) and Wilder.

The Panthers successfully rotated three quarterbacks, none of which was starter Phillip Ely, still sidelined with a back injury.

"I don't know how to spell shellacking, but that's what it was," Jefferson coach Mike Fenton said. "Looking at the glass as half full, we did get better punting the football, because we did a lot of it. That's all I gotta say."

Jefferson (1-1) took an early lead when Williams connected with Andre Davis for a touchdown - the first of two on the night - on the Dragons' first possession, but it took just one play for Plant to respond as backup James Few hit Allen Sampson for a score.

Varon then picked off Williams on Jefferson's next possession, returning it 40 yards for the lead. The Panthers never looked back from there.

The Panthers had been outscored in the fourth quarter 38-6 in their season-opening loss to Tampa Bay Tech and their preseason game against Bradenton Manatee. This week, the Panthers made sure there was no comeback.

"We weren't going to let what happened to us in the first two games happen," Varon said. "We came off those two losses and we didn't feel sorry for ourselves. We practiced hard all week and it showed because we played all four quarters."