The Terriers beat the Raiders in a Sept. 1 game defined by turnovers.
As broadcaster Rhett Rollyson said in the fourth quarter of Plant City’s Sept. 1 game, the Raiders and the Hillsborough Terriers combined for “more turnovers than a bakery.” But Hillsborough came out on top, 14-0, partly by virtue of being the least mistake-prone team on the field.
The Raiders’ defense was solid throughout a windy, rainy first half, coming up with answers for every test by the Terriers’ offense. Plant City’s front seven frequently got in Hillsborough quarterback Tyler Thomas’s face and came up with some big plays to keep the Raiders in the game while the offense tried to find a rhythm.
Braxton Plunk started at quarterback for Plant City but, after the offense couldn’t get anything going, he was replaced for the rest of the game by sophomore Ryan Overstreet, a recent Manatee transfer. But Overstreet struggled to get comfortable against a tenacious Terriers defense, and Plant City often found itself unable to capitalize on the opportunities it got.
The tides turned toward the Terriers as soon as the second half got underway, as Plant City fumbled away the opening kickoff and allowed Hillsborough to recover at the Raiders’ 15-yard line. Just a few plays later, Hillsborough celebrated its first rushing touchdown of the night and the successful extra-point kick.
It was after the 8:57 mark in the third quarter that turnover problems hit the Terriers hard. Thomas fumbled and recovered a snap deep in Hillsborough territory and nearly threw a pick to Kobe Panier, then fumbled and recovered the snap on the ensuing punt, which the Terriers were able to execute.
With 4:17 left in the third quarter, Jefferson transfer Tyrese Spain broke off a 68-yard touchdown run that gave the Terriers a 14-0 cushion. Eric and Chris Wilson drove Plant City down the field on the next drive but, just as things started to look promising for the Raiders, a pitch attempt went awry and Hillsborough scooped the ball up. Hillsborough’s next drive bled into the fourth quarter and, when forced to punt, the Terriers caught another lucky break when Plant City fumbled the punt return.
The Terriers drove to Plant City’s 15 but were stuffed by the Raiders’ defense, which ended the drive by blocking a 39-yard field goal attempt. Plant City took over at its own 10-yard line and started its best drive of the night, marching to the Hillsborough 25 with a lot of help from Eric Wilson and wideout Tyler Hood. But the drive stalled there and, on third down and short, Overstreet fumbled the snap and the Terriers recovered.
Spain nearly picked up another touchdown with 4:20 to play, slipping through the cracks for an impressive 80-yard run, but it was called back on a personal foul.
Just over a minute later, the ball finally bounced Plant City’s way with a recovered forced fumble. Hillsborough intercepted the ball on the next play and started a sequence where the Terriers, simply needing to run for a first down or two to kill the clock, instead chose to throw downfield. The ploy didn’t work and the Raiders got the ball back deep in their own territory.
With Overstreet looking more comfortable under center, Plant City drove all the way to Hillsborough’s 40 and spiked the ball with 1.6 seconds left, hoping to put some points on the board and avoid a shutout. Overstreet’s last-second pass attempt was picked off in the end zone as time expired.
In other area action, Strawberry Crest broke the losing streak with a 23-6 win over King, and Durant and Sickles had not finished a game delayed by lightning. The score at press time was 28-14 in favor of Durant.