ORLANDO -- The Plant Panthers "drive for five" to Orlando came to a screeching halt courtesy of another set of Panthers in the same city they hoped to be playing in come the middle of December at the hands of Dr. Phillips 24-7 on Friday Night in the 8A Regional Semifinals.
Dr. Phillips (12-0) tested the defending 8A Champions using the toughest of proctors to administer the examination to the Plant Secondary; Wide Receiver Roderick Proctor that is. The 6-0, 160lb Class of 2014 playmaker finished the night with 5 receptions for 179 yards including an 85yd touchdown with 4:28 left in the 3rd Quarter down the Plant sideline to put DP up 14-0; a lead that virtually left Plant in an uncharacteristically insurmountable position.
Dr. Phillips' defense held Plant to just 98 total yards (not including Wesley Bullock's 91-yd kickoff return at the start of the 4th Quarter) after building a 21-0 lead on the strength of the Meeks to Proctor connection as well as the finishing prowess of Eric Harrell twice from inside the 10.
Meeks finished the night only completing 8 of 20 passes, but those passes were for a total of 206 yards, while Harrell was held beneath the century mark at 83 yards on 18 carries, but the SR. was able to add two more touchdowns to his total on the season. Bullock was held to only 30 yards on 14 carries by the Panthers Defense.
It was a story of two halves eerily similar to the one that unfolded for Plant in
the 2010 Final versus St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Plant Panthers only trailed 7-0 at the half and although neither team was breaking bulbs on the scoreboard or burning led on the stat sheets, it was clear that in order for Plant's offense to become effective at all, they were going to have to account for DP's Kenderson Obas, Auggie Amone, Deonte Williams and the rest of the crew whenever Aaron Banks dropped back to pass; which is something they didn't do very well.
After finishing the first half at 5-10 and 55 yards, Banks was harassed to no end in the second by the Dr. Phillips rush in conjunction with some untimely drops, completing just one pass on eleven attempts for 5 yards to leave the Sr. in his final game with a memory he would like to forget as soon as possible.
The victory gives Dr. Phillips coach Rodney Wells and his staff a chance to gain a little taste of redemption from last year's 49-13 exit in the same round at the hands of Plant in South Tampa.
Dr. Phillips will continue their run at an undefeated (and possible championship) season next week when they host East Lake (11-1) at home in the 8A Region 2 Finals.
The winner of that contest will go on to face the winner of Apopka at Fletcher in the state semifinals.