SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.
The players watched videos from former Hawks standouts who explained what the rivalry meant to them. Armwood then raced out on to the field wearing all-black uniforms, a reward for their work throughout the season.
That reward just happened to come when Armwood played a certain team in South Tampa.
Truth be told, Davis did not need much to gain an edge.
He already had what most teams covet: a tenacious, ball-hawking secondary.
Armwood registered 10 sacks and forced four turnovers, including a pair of interceptions at the goal line that thwarted scoring drives in a 27-7 victory that ended the Panthers' 20-game regular season win streak.
The victory also exacted revenge for the Hawks (7-0), whose loss to Plant ended their 34-game regular season win streak a year ago.
"I expected it could be a defensive battle," Davis said. "I watched film after film of these guys, and if I didn't see Plant on their jersey I might have been less worried. But they do a phenomenal job and their kids always play hard and find ways to pull things out that you don't expect."
When these teams knock heads, games are hard-hitting and usually close. Two of the last three meetings have been decided by two points or fewer. Plant won both close contests — 29-27 last year and 20-19 in overtime in 2012.
Monday's game was expected to be tight but low-scoring, too. Plant had allowed just 29 points in its first six games, including three shutouts. Armwood had allowed just 35 points in six games.
The defenses doused any potential offensive fireworks early on. The Panthers' defense struck first when Romain Mungin picked off a pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.
Trailing 7-0, the Hawks finally put something together on offense. Brian Snead, an Ohio State commit, finished off the drive by scoring on an 8-yard run to tie the score.
The game remained a stalemate the rest of the half. Armwood's biggest defensive play late in the second quarter when linebacker Ricardo Watson stepped in front of a Jordan McCloud pass for a goal line interception that thwarted Plant's best drive of the half.
Mungin came up with his second interception on a desperation heave as time expired in the first half.
Two personal fouls on Armwood were enforced on the second half kickoff, giving the Panthers (6-1) great field position.
That drive also ended in frustration as Armwood's De'kwon Hughes intercepted a pass in the end zone for a touchback.
Soon after, the Hawks put the game away thanks to their big-play capabilities.
Quarterback Devin Black hit a streaking Jerome Ford on a 77-yard touchdown. After a missed extra point, the Hawks had a 13-7 lead.
Late in the third quarter, Snead stopped, started, then reversed field before racing away from defenders on a 65-yard touchdown run to make it 20-7.
Snead rounded out the scoring on a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter.