FIVE BEST GAMES
1. Robinson 14, Plant 7 (1979) – District title at stake. Packed stadium with fans lining the fence, some 10-deep. Chilly fall evening. Bad blood. Great game. All in all, one of the most memorable events inHillsboroughCounty prep sports history.
2. Plant 27, Robinson 25 (1973) – Highly anticipated season-opener goes down to the wire when Robinson QB Nick Ray is tripped up on tying 2-point conversion run attempt in the final minute.
3. Robinson 19, Plant 16, 2 OT (1981) – The first series game not played at Plant or Robinson (it was moved to Tampa Stadium as part of a planned county double-header). Plant led 6-0 and was going in for the put-away touchdown with 6:38 remaining when Knights linebacker Derek Johnson scooped up a fumble and rumbled 97 yards. Of course, Robinson missed the PAT. The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime. Plant settled for a field goal to begin the second OT. Then Stanley Boderick won it on a 3-yard run, sliding into the corner, just inside the pylon. Afterward, Robinson coach Randy Smith was asked if he was worried late in regulation, when Plant went for the knockout punch. "Are you kidding?’’ Smith said. "That’s like asking people on the Titanic if they got wet.’’
4. Robinson 12, Plant 7 (1959) – The game when it all started. First-year Knights stun Panthers (coming off first 10-0 season in school history) – and the rivalry was off and running.
5. Robinson 28, Plant 27 (1999) – Purely because of the insane finish. Panthers score two touchdowns in final 17 seconds. With no time remaining, they go for the victory with a 2-point conversion pass attempt. It fails. And everyone is left breathless.
FIVE BIGGEST CONTROVERSIES
* The Bounty (1977): Before the game, there were rumors of a bounty being placed on the head of Robinson sophomore quarterback Doug Shields, who lived in the Plant district, but played for the Knights because his mother was a dean at the school. That flame was ignited when Plant’s Vince Jones had a nasty collision and takedown of Shields, who suffered a season-ending broken leg on the play. Robinson won 14-7 with backup Bobby Walker bringing it home, then the Knights reached the state semifinals.
* Bible-Gate (1983): One afternoon at practice, Robinson coaches noticed a man sitting alone in the stands, apparently reading the Bible. But one assistant got curious and confronted the man, who was drawing diagrams of Robinson’s formations, then concealing the papers in the Bible. The man was the brother of a Plant assistant coach. Plant coach Roland Acosta disavowed any knowledge of the incident and it was quickly forgotten after the Panthers’ 26-7 victory, mostly serving as comic relief to diffuse any over-the-top intensity from the rivalry.
* Going For Two (1976): In the regular season’s final game, Plant was 9-0 and Robinson was 5-4. But with a victory, the Knights still could win the district and end Plant’s season. It wasn’t close. In the third quarter, Plant’s Vince Pennino returned an interception for a 73-yard touchdown, making it 48-6. Panthers coach Roland Acosta went for two. It fell short and Plant prevailed 48-18. Afterward, of course, the Knights were still steaming. "That (two-point attempt) goes for everyone who didn’t think we could do it,’’ Acosta said by way of explanation. "People made us mad, thinking we would lose this game.’’
* Knight Trickery (1960): In the rivalry’s second game, Robinson settled for a 7-7 tie with Plant. The Knights appeared to be positioned to win in the late going when a pass from Bill Fleming to Alan "The Raven’’ Poe went to Plant’s 1-yard line. But before the play, one Knight was sent into the game as a substitute and two appeared to come out (although Poe stopped just short of the sideline, then ran undetected on the pass play). The referee negated the play, calling unsportsmanlike conduct on the Knights for "deceiving’’ the Panthers.
* Campus Raids (any season): The rivalry has been known for opposing students making late-night raids of the other campus, perhaps painting the Panther pink or defacing the Knight. Or maybe using spray paint to form a giant "P’’ or "R’’ in the middle of the football field. Plant and Robinson students have been known to spend the nights near campus to head off such raids.