TAMPA — Plant's offensive stars garnered most of the headlines during the regular season. In the first round of the playoffs on Friday, it was all about defense.
Led by first-half interception return touchdowns from Mazzi Wilkins and Maurice Jackson, the Panthers (9-1-1) throttled Class 8A-District 5 runner-up Orlando Boone 42-3 at Dad's Stadium.
The Panthers have now won at least one playoff game in nine consecutive seasons under Coach Robert Weiner.
“We had two amazing weeks of practice and came out ready to play,” Weiner said.
Boone coach Andy Johnson game-planned to beat Plant through the air, but the strategy backfired 45 seconds into the game. Wilkins' touchdown return, from 38 yards, came on the third play from scrimmage. Twenty seconds later, it was 14-0 after the first of two Jackson interceptions set up a 28-yard scoring pass from Colby Brown to Austin Hudson.
Jackson later intercepted the Braves in the second quarter, jumping the pass route before the ball was thrown, and going 41 yards for the TD to make it 35-0 Plant just 4:45 into the second quarter.
Patrick Brooks scored three TDs for the Panthers, two rushing and one receiving. Brown threw for 148 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
The Plant defense held Boone (4-7) in check with only 136 total yards of offense on the night.
The victory sets up a showdown next week at Dad's Stadium between Plant and Orlando Dr. Phillips (11-0), which defeated Plant 24-7 last season in the second round of the playoffs.
Boone 0 3 0 0 — 3
Plant 21 21 0 0 — 42
P — Wilkins 38 INT return (Miller kick)
P — Hudson 28 pass from Brown (Miller kick)
P — Brooks 2 pass from Brown (Miller kick)
P — Brooks 1 run (Miller kick)
P — M. Jackson 41 INT return (Miller kick)
B — FG A. Jones 36
P — Brooks 28 run (Miller kick)