The Plant City Dolphins picked up a 6-0 win over the Brandon Cowboys Saturday afternoon.
Few football clichés are repeated as often as “defense wins championships,” but the Plant City Dolphins Midgets backed it up Saturday at the Dover Patriots' field.
The team won its second consecutive Tri-County Youth Football and Cheerleading Conference Superbowl championship with a 6-0 win over the Brandon Cowboys, one that came down to as big a defensive stop as football fans will ever see.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better ending than we had,” head coach Marcus Springfield said.
O’Lonte Dean put the Dolphins ahead for good with 1:44 to go in the first quarter, scoring on a five-yard run immediately after Plant City’s “Purple Rain” defense recovered a botched Cowboys snap. The Cowboys were able to stop the extra point attempt from crossing the goal line, putting the score at 6-0.
Though Brandon was able to keep Plant City out of the end zone for the rest of the game, it wasn’t able to control the pace and flow of play. Led by Dean and Cason Dash, the Dolphins’ rushing attack sustained a drive that lasted the entirety of the second quarter, for example, and the Cowboys didn’t get the ball back until there was 2:38 left to play in the third quarter.
Plant City had the ball to start the fourth quarter and Brandon did its best to try and turn the tables on the game. Shortly the Dolphins recovered two fumbled snaps, the Cowboys stripped Dash on a run up the middle and recovered at their own 15-yard line with 5:47 to go. Brandon drove to the Plant City 24 in almost exactly four minutes, picking up its first two first downs of the contest, and an offsides call against the Dolphins put the Cowboys in the red zone. Brandon went on to convert on third and inches with 31 seconds left to play.
The Cowboys attempted three passes inside Plant City’s 10-yard line. The first two attempts were incomplete — one was tipped, the next dropped in the end zone — and Brandon was able to complete a pass on third down with one second left in the game. But the Dolphins’ signature defense, the stingiest unit in the TCYFCC’s Midgets division, stopped the receiver at the one-yard line as time expired.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Springfield said. “Our defense, that’s our strength … I knew our defense would step up like they’ve been doing all year.”
It capped off a stellar season for the Dolphins’ Midgets programs, as the Midgets cheer team won the TCYFCC Cheer-Off on Oct. 28.
“These kids, they deserved it,” Springfield said. “They worked their tails off all year. It’s all them, man. They deserve it.”
Plant City didn’t have much time to sit back and celebrate the win, as the team played twice the next day: first against the Tampa Hurricanes at noon in the Game Day of Champions event at Raymond James Stadium, then in the start of the United YFL Football Championships in Plant City that evening.