The Tampa Bay Tech Titans, finally healthy, were expected to hang tight with Plant City in the teams' Nov. 20 rematch.
They did not.
Now, following a 35-15 win, the Raiders are bound for the FHSAA regional championship game on Friday, Nov. 27. The home team got in front early in the game and, after Tech quarterback Trent Wyatt left with an apparent knee injury, looked dominant.
It only took three plays for Plant City to get on the scoreboard, which came in the form of a 75-yard run by Markese Hargrove. Tech nearly followed up with a score, but Antoine Thompson picked Wyatt off at the Plant City 9 with 8:34 left in the quarter.
The only problem that Plant City had, carrying over from their previous game, was stopping the run up the middle. Tech almost exclusively called for runs up the middle in the first quarter, save for a couple of plays. And, for the most part, it worked – the Titans used these runs to rip off a 74-yard drive, ending with a QB keeper up the middle with four seconds left in the quarter.
Plant City also scored first in the second quarter, with quarterback Corey King scoring on a six-yard keeper at the 9:33 mark.
Wyatt went down with a knee injury in the quarter, and was determined to be too banged up to continue the game. Cyrus Wade, who saw some action in the last match between the two teams, then took the reins to the offense.
Tech's punter managed to back Plant City all the way up to its own red zone, then to their goal line and, with 58 seconds left in the half, managed to get a safety. The 14-9 score held as the teams went into the locker room.
The second half was entirely Plant City's. King hooked up with Antoine Thompson at the 7:55 mark of the third quarter for what would have been a 12-yard touchdown pass, if not for an illegal man downfield, but made up for it a few seconds later with a touchdown pass to Nathan Hamilton.
In the fourth quarter, T.J. Chase got his turn to shine. He started at the 6:31 mark by catching a 19-yard touchdown pass from King and, just a minute later, scored on a 25-yard pick six. With the score at 35-9, many Tech fans began to leave the stadium.
The Titans did get another touchdown with 5:05 to go, scoring on a long catch-and-run along the left sideline, but the onside kick failed and Plant City killed a lot of time. When Tech got the ball back, Plant City recorded three consecutive sacks within the last minute and a half to ice the game.
The Raiders will now face the Braden River Pirates in the regional championship. Braden River used the run game to dominate the clock in its 17-0 win over Venice.