Panthers claw Boone 42-3

Mazzi Wilkins, INT for a TD

Plant 42, Boone 3

The Plant Panthers played their version of Fast and Furious, striking often and quickly and then coasting to a 42-3 victory in a 8A Regional Quarterfinal match-up with the Orlando Boone Braves.

Boone won the opening coin toss and elected to receive. Three plays later, Panther cornerback Mazzi Wilkins picked off a deflected Boone pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead. Plant kicked off again and this time it was Plant linebacker Maurice Jackson stepping in front of a Boone pass and giving the Panthers great field position on the Braves 27 yard line. On Plant’s first offensive play, senior quarterback Colby Brown connected with classmate Austin Hudson for a touchdown and Plant doubled its lead to 14-0.

The teams exchanged punts before Boone turned the ball over on downs in Plant territory. Sparked by a pair of 22-yard completions from Brown to junior Clarke Miller, the Panthers moved down the filed. The drive was punctuated by a 2-yard scoring strike from Brown to junior Patrick Brooks. With just over two minutes left in the opening quarter, Plant led 21-0.

Boone’s next possession ended in an unusual manner. As the Braves set up in punt formation, a Boone player came running onto the field. Before he could get set, the ball was snapped. Seeing the flag thrown and apparently thinking the play would be blown dead, the Boone punter made little effort to kick the ball and was tackled for a 10-yard loss. Plant took over at the Braves 20 yard line, but could not take immediate advantage of the good field position. After turning the ball over on downs, Plant once again forced an apparent punt situation. This time, the Boone punter tried to kick a mishandled snap off the ground, resulting in an illegal kicking penalty. On his second attempt, the punt was shanked and a short return gave Plant the ball at the Boone 8 yard line. From there, two runs from Brooks put the Panthers in the end zone again.

The Panthers went back to work again.on defense as Maurice Jackson picked off his second pass of the night. This one he returned 45 yards for a touchdown. Miller converted his fifth of six extra points on the night and the Panthers led 35-0.

Boone then followed with its best offensive possession of the night, moving the ball 50 yards into Plant territory before settling for a 36-yard field goal from the strong right leg of Braves kicker Austin Jones. Plant led 35-3.

Keyed by a 28-yard catch and run from Plant senior Alex Jackson, the Panthers moved the ball down to the Boone 28 yard line. Brooks took over from there, running the ball in for his third touchdown of the night and a 42-3 Plant advantage. Unofficially, Brooks finished the night with 90 yards rushing on only 13 carries. Brown threw for 150 yards in just over a half of play, connecting on 9 for 17. The Panthers used the second half to rest several starters and a running clock in the fourth quarter put an early end to the night.

Behind a strong defensive effort, Plant shut down a Boone team that came into the game with four straight wins. The playoff victory will allow Plant to host 8A-District 5 Dr. Phillips in a battle of district champions in Regional semifinal action next Friday night. Dr. Phillips will come into the game undefeated on the season. Plant, on the other hand, will be looking to avenge last year’s season-ending loss in a battle of Panthers.