Shortly before 3 p.m. on Saturday, the Plant City Dolphins ended their 2018 Superbowl run with one championship win in two tries.
The Dolphins and East Bay Bucs went head-to-head in back-to-back Superbowl matchups at George Jenkins High School and split the day’s series. The East Bay Pee Wees shut out the Dolphins, 19-0, and the Plant City Midgets struck gold with a 22-16 classic over the Bucs.
In the Pee Wee game, East Bay’s noticeable size advantage was enough to keep the Dolphins in check on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Dolphins had trouble all morning trying to bring down East Bay’s big running backs and stop the Bucs from both controlling the clock and rumbling into the end zone. Offensively, the Bucs were able to disrupt the Dolphins’ single-wing offense regularly and keep everyone on their toes after getting through the offensive line.
The Midgets, on the other hand, kept up the conference dominance with their 29th consecutive win. It didn’t come easy, though.
Quarterback Jeremiah Epps and the Dolphins ran all over the Bucs, with Epps scoring all of the Dolphins’ touchdowns on the ground and making double-digit gains whenever the team needed a first down. Plant City jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the strength of Epps’ legs and the “Purple Reign” defense forcing a clutch turnover on downs in Plant City’s red zone.
East Bay then opened up the playbook to pass the ball more often and picked up some momentum by the end of the half, scoring with a 19-yard pass with 19 seconds left and making the two-point conversion to cut the PCD lead to 14-8.
The Bucs forced a turnover on downs on the Dolphins’ opening drive of the second half, but the Dolphins got the ball right back by forcing a fumble with 4:29 left in the third quarter and were able to score again in less than two minutes. The Dolphins forced another turnover on downs in their own red zone and Epps was able to bring the Dolphins into Bucs territory as time expired, and the home sideline got excited for a potential 22-8 win.
East Bay had other ideas, though, stopping the Dolphins from scoring again and airing the ball out until ending up inside Plant City’s 10-yard line and scoring on a quarterback sneak, then nailing the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 22-16. When the Bucs forced and recovered a fumble on Plant City’s next drive with 2:11 left to play, the Dolphins’ mood got much more urgent.
The moment wasn’t too big for the “Purple Reign,” though. The PCD defense only gave up 10 yards on this East Bay drive (with five being taken away from the Bucs on a false start penalty) and ended the game with 57 seconds left when Dazariyan Jenkins intercepted the ball.
The win gave the Midgets their third consecutive Superbowl win and first with head coach John Broome, who has now coached in 11 consecutive Superbowls.