Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Nothing in life is so exhilirating as to be shot at without a result.” Of course he was speaking about survival, and that’s exactly what Plant City did was dodge a bullet aimed squarely at their chances for a perfect season. The Raiders used timely stops on defense and got on the shoulders of RB Dazmond Patterson to secure their 6th win of the season keeping them undefeated by the slimmest of margins. It was a battle of attrition for most of the night plagued by penalties, turnovers and overall inefficiency at times from both teams on offense. In the end, Plant City seemed to have made literally one more play than the Ravens and did what all good teams do and that’s win even when your own worst enemy is yourself.
The Raiders came into the game achieving near perfect balance on offense averaging 226 ypg through the air and 222 on the ground. Although Plant City nearly hit their mark with 197 yards mostly from the feet of Dazmond Patterson and his 174 yards on 22 carries and a TD, it was the passing game that could “only” muster 113 yards on just 9 completions. WR Lamarlin Wiggins was held in check with just 2 catches for 33 yards, while QB Bennie Coney spent much of the night trying to find other ways to figure out the Ravens stingy defense that bent a couple of times but never really broke.
The one exception was a play that over half the stadium thought was already a dead ball, but the officials never blew the whistle and by the time the defense realized what happened, Daz Patterson was celebrating a 49yd TD run with his teammates. For what it’s worth, it was a controversial call without a doubt, but hypothetically IF there was instant replay it very well would have stood due to inconclusive evidence. In addition, there weren’t exactly any verbal 2×4’s coming from the Alonso sideline towards the refs adding to the suspense. It appeared 75% of the people in attendance weren’t sure of what they saw either. The score at that point was 9-0 essentially becoming the winning TD with just under 3 minutes to play in the half. The two teams exchanged punts in the entire 1st quarter and the only difference at that point in the game was a 22yd FG by Cameron Roberts.
Alonso was effective with Brandon Holloway at the QB in the wildcat as he was able to get to the edges with his blazing speed. It served as a great counter for when they handed the ball to Ish Witter who was getting some extremely tough yards when they needed them the most. Unfortunately for Witter, it was his fumble at the Plant City 7yd line that dealt a serious body blow to the Ravens attempt going ahead. When they had to get into shotgun with Brandon Hawkins and pass protect, that was an entirely different story. The Raiders started stockpiling sacks in the 3rd and 4th Quarter when they forced Alonso into obvious passing situations. There was simply not enough time for Hawkins to throw when he needed literally a second more. Credit to the Raider Defense though.
One person who sounded like he was completely sold on Mr. Holloway was Raiders Head Coach Wayne Ward. “That Brandon Holloway kid is a stud.” said Ward. “It’s one thing to see him on film and prepare for him, but it’s an entirely different thing to see him in person.” Ward was extremely gracious towards Alonso following the game. “I’ll tell you what. Alonso’s a good football team. They’re a playoff caliber team. They were awesome tonight.”
Ward also was pleased that one of the main principles taught to his players about playing to the whistle actually applied. Patterson’s TD run was a prime example. When both sides of the ball were literally coming to a stop, the next thing seen was Dazmond darting down the Ravens sideline. “We always preach about playing to the whistle,” Ward said. “That’s what we did and it paid off big time.”
At the other end of the field as the Raiders began chants of 6-and-0, the postgame speech for Brian Emanuel didn’t look as jovial, but was made with a purpose and delivered to his team with one goal in mind and that was to let the score burn into their brains, and never forget they had their chances when most called for a 3TD+ victory for Plant City. Most importantly, Emanuel wanted his players to understand what they did and learn from it. He encouraged his young team to move on and start getting ready for the short week ahead with Plant on the schedule next. In other words, he wanted them angry, but ready to bury it and get on with what lies ahead. After the talk with his team, Emanuel, who was just as gracious in defeat as Ward was humble in victory had this to say:
“We can’t rough their punter, we can’t fumble on the 7yd line, we just can’t make those mistakes. We had a trick play that we worked on for a month that was wide open and we overthrow the guy (who was so wide open even HE was surprised and appeared to have stopped running I might add) by 20 yards. Against good teams that will get you beat. We’re a good team too [taking nothing away from Plant City], the kids fought hard in a hostile environment with it being homecoming and all the odds stacked against us to begin with. This is one of those games that when you get home and look at the tape it may make you even more sick to your stomach than watching it live. We left a lot of points on the board, but we’ll be ready next week.”
As mentioned Alonso (5-1, 1-0) will now travel to South Tampa and take on district opponent Plant (6-0, 1-0) at Dad’s Stadium on Thursday. Plant City (6-0, 2-0) will travel to East Bay. MORE PLUS VIDEO HERE