TAMPA — The Corvettes were lined up, the players were jacked up and the crowd was overflowing at Ravens Stadium.
With playoff implications for Alonso, it was clear from the beginning that the Ravens were ready for the always daunting challenge of facing Plant, which already had clinched the Class 8A-District 6 title.
But with two thunderous swats of the football, Plant senior Bernard Rogers took the air right out of Alonso’s homecoming. The edge rusher blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown, then blocked a Ravens extra-point try, both times igniting the slow-starting Panthers and propelling them to a 56-27 victory in their regular-season finale.
“We were worried about a drop in intensity level, but it took a senior like Bernard to get everybody going,” Plant coach Robert Weiner said. “We didn’t come out like we were ready to play, but his big plays as well as our defense allowed us to take some chances in the second half.”
Plant (8-1-1, 5-0), playing without senior Alex “Buda” Jackson due to a minor ankle injury, was held off the scoreboard in the first quarter. But quarterback Colby Brown found the end zone on the first play in the second on a 15-yard keeper. Alonso (5-4, 2-3) responded on its next offensive play when Chris Oladokun hit Marcus Mosely down the left sideline on a short pass and Mosely outran the defense for a 65-yard tying score.
The Panthers kept the shootout going with a 77-yard TD drive capped by a 2-yard Patrick Brooks run. Brooks finished with 81 yards and two scores. Then came the first of Rogers’ game-changing blocked kicks.
Switching from the right to the left side for the rush, Rogers smothered the kick so badly, punter Brandon Robinson had no idea which direction the ball went. It was bouncing helplessly in the end zone, 12 yards behind him, where Rogers cradled it for a 20-7 Plant lead.
“My coach said he found a soft spot on the left side and moved me over there,” Rogers said. “I told him I would get the block.”
And even though Alonso responded, on a 21-yard fourth-down scoring pass from Oladokun to Derius Davis, Rogers was there again to swat the extra point, keeping Plant ahead by two scores.
Brown completed 18 of 32 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns.
Plant 0 28 14 14 — 56
Alonso 0 13 0 14 — 27
P - C. Brown 15 run (Miller kick)
A - Mosely 65 pass from Oladokun (Brzezynski kick)
P - Brooks 2 run (Miller kick)
P - Rogers blocked punt recovered in end zone (C. Brown run)
A - Davis 21 pass from Oladokun (kick failed)
P - Barnes 5 pass from C. Brown (run failed)
P - Brooks 3 run (Miller kick)
P - Miller 8 pass from Brown (Houston kick)
P - Rutledge 9 pass from Culpepper (Houston kick)
A - Witter 58 run (Witter run)
P - Valdes 19 run (Houston kick)
A - Witter 1 run (no conversion attempted)