WESLEY CHAPEL — Another season, another district championship for Plant.
The Panthers won their 13th straight title under coach Robert Weiner on Friday night after a 56-36 win over Wiregrass Ranch. Plant (8-1, 6-0) clinched a playoff spot. The Bulls (7-2, 4-2) are also a likely playoff team if they win next week against Auburndale.
"The first couple of times we may have doused each other with Gatorade coolers, but we don't do that anymore," Weiner said of the district title. "But they are all special. We never take any championship for granted."
It certainly wasn't taken for granted after Wiregrass Ranch's first series. The Bulls went 95 yards on just six plays for a touchdown. Adrian Thomas capped the drive with a 24-yard run and a two-point conversion pass was good for an 8-0 lead.
Romain Mungin cut the lead to one on the next drive with a 4-yard run. Plant shot out to a 28-8 lead late in the second quarter, but the Bulls answered with another Mungin touchdown run, this one 54 yards, and another two-point play to make it 28-16.
Then with two seconds left in the half, the Bulls scored on a 14-yard pass from Grant Sessums to Thomas to make it 28-22.
But the third quarter decided the game for Plant.
The Bulls fumbled on their second possession, and Jordan McCloud hit Frank Murphy on a 22-yard TD pass to make it 35-22. Wiregrass Ranch fumbled the kickoff and that turned into a 2-yard touchdown run from Micah McFadden to make it 42-22.
Plant's defense held on downs on the next drive, and McCloud threw his second touchdown pass, this one 7 yards to Romello Walters to expand the lead to 49-22. The Bulls could not come back.
"You can't turn the ball over and give them three touchdowns," Wiregrass coach Mark Kantor said. "That turned the tide in the game. But our kids fought. Nobody else in the district has scored 36 points against them. But that program has been in so many of these type of games. We're young. We don't know how to play these games yet."
The Bulls' two second-half touchdowns came on a fumble recovery and return by Cameron Lee and a 1-yard run by Chase OIiver after Jatshaun Pyce returned a fumble 68 yards to the 1.
Ten players carried the ball for Plant. The Panthers rushed for 258 yards.
"We were waiting for that moment, that barrage, and it was matter of taking care of some opportunities," Weiner said. "I felt like we were at a point there where our offense was clicking on all cylinders. Our offensive line was very good. It was a good feeling."