TAMPA — It was evident from the opening play that things would bounce in Plant's favor during its 41-8 win at Gaither.
The Panthers jumped on a short kickoff to gain possession inside the Cowboys' 15-yard line, setting up Alexander Jackson's 5-yard run to put his squad ahead 7-0.
Plant (2-0-1) had several other big plays on special teams, including returning a fumbled punt attempt 34 yards for a touchdown near the end of the first half and Austin Hudson's 55-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter.
Panthers coach Robert Weiner said he was pleased with how his special teams performed despite the poor field conditions caused by torrential rain.
“We pride ourselves on being mentally tough, and we like to think that when it gets this way it's an advantage for us,” Weiner said.
The Cowboys' defenders kept their squad within striking distance by limiting Plant to a 7-0 lead after the first quarter, but things started unraveling once the rain came.
Gaither (1-2), which had 128 total yards, was unable to move the ball much during the downpours, while Panthers quarterback Colby Brown seemed unfazed by the weather.
“I like playing in the rain,” Brown said. “It doesn't affect me throwing the ball, so it's fun for me.”
The 6-foot-1 senior connected with six different receivers before being taken out of the game in the third quarter. He finished 9-for-14 passing for 110 yards and two touchdowns while adding a 1-yard rushing score.
“They are really good with their back seven, and we wanted to make sure that those guys had to really cover as much ground as possible,” Weiner said. “Colby is really, really good at getting everybody involved.”
Weiner said he was “thrilled” with the victory over the Cowboys on a short week.
“I have great respect for coach (Jason) Stokes and Gaither,” Weiner said. “We've been friends for a long time; we've seen them play and played them in 7-on-7, so I know they're a good, quality football team.”
The only negative was that Plant committed 15 penalties for 130 yards in the contest.
“That's an area we need to clean up,” Weiner said. “We had two equipment penalties, and that's inexcusable.”
The Cowboys broke up the shutout on their final drive when Jalen Cochran ran for a 24-yard touchdown.
Both squads open district play next week. Plant hosts Bloomingdale while Gaither travels to Freedom.
Plant 7 20 14 0 — 41
Gaither 0 0 0 8 — 8
P – Jackson 5 run (Anderson kick)
P – Beck 9 pass from Brown (pass failed)
P – Brown 1 run (Anderson kick)
P – Valdes 34 fumble recovery (Anderson kick)
P – Barnes 10 pass from Brown (Henderson run)
P – Buxton 27 run (kick failed)
G – Cochran 24 run (Mazur run)