With big performances from a handful of former Plant City Raiders, the PCHS football six-game win streak has come to an end.
Armwood rallied in the second half of Friday’s game to pick up a 44-24 win at 1 Raider Place. After trailing 17-7 in the second quarter, the Hawks were able to score 29 consecutive points before Plant City could strike back late in the fourth quarter.
Plant City looked strong in the first half, winning the field position battle on special teams and taking advantage of anything Armwood’s defense gave it. The Raiders struck first at 8:01 in the first quarter with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Plunk to Eric McLeod, which was set up by a one-handed circus catch by De’Qwan Myers up the visitors’ sideline. Armwood tied the game at 7-7 on the next drive with former Raider Eric Wilson’s four-yard scoring run, but the Raiders would again take the lead in the second quarter.
Shortly after linebacker D.J. Gordon blocked an Armwood 30-yard field goal attempt, Plant City drove from its own 20-yard line to Armwood’s red zone and nailed a 22-yard field goal to go up, 10-7, with 3:17 left in the half. The Raiders called for a squib on the ensuing kickoff and defensive back Tyreke Harrison was able to recover it, giving PCHS the ball back on Armwood’s 23-yard line. Myers caught his first of two touchdown passes on the following play, giving the Raiders a 17-7 lead.
With just over three minutes until halftime, Armwood dialed up a run-heavy drive to get the Hawks to the Plant City 27 and Myles Forte — another former Raider — took a 27-yard pass into the end zone to pull Armwood within three points. Plant City fans’ chants of “Traitor!” directed at the ex-Raiders were as loud as they’d be all night.
The Hawks received the ball to start the third quarter and ate up nearly five minutes of game time on the second half’s first drive. Forte finished it with a 10-yard touchdown catch at 7:11 in the quarter, but Armwood’s PAT attempt was no good and the Hawks settled for a 20-17 lead. Another touchdown catch at 4:53 was boosted by a successful two-point conversion, giving Armwood a 28-17 lead. Plant City’s next drive stalled out around its own 43-yard line and Armwood’s ensuing drive stretched into the fourth quarter.
Roughly a minute and a half into the fourth quarter, a defensive pass interference call against Plant City brought Armwood to its own 45 in a third-and-one situation fixed quickly with Wilson’s 35-yard scamper. Wilson took the next handoff up the middle for 10 more yards and another score, which led to yet another successful two-point conversion.
Rather than ease off the gas pedal, Armwood kept its offensive starters in the game and continued to take big shots downfield with a 36-17 lead.
Myers would score one more time for Plant City, hauling in a pass along the Hawks’ sideline and scooting 64 yards for a score with 6:17 left to play, and the Raiders recovered their own onside kick attempt to try and make it a one-possession game. A flashy catch by Mario Williams got the Raiders to Armwood’s 27, but the Hawks were able to shut down Plant City’s offense and forced a turnover on downs with a fourth-down sack for a loss of 11 yards.
Wilson scored the last touchdown of the game with 46 seconds left to play on six consecutive rushes and the Hawks’ two-point conversion pass attempt worked. Plant City took over on its own 35 for one last drive, but a big run by Zamir’ Knighten was cut off by the Hawks’ defense and time expired with the Hawks ahead.