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Panthers come roaring back to stay perfect

3A-9 BOYS: Plant uses four overtimes to beat Sickles 2-1 after having a goal disallowed.

By MIKE READLING, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 7, 2003


TAMPA -- Kelvin Jones flew Thursday night. Feet off the ground, arms out, flying.

And that isn't the most amazing thing that happened during the district championship game between Plant and Sickles.

The Panthers overcame a disallowed goal, a one-goal deficit with less than two minutes remaining and then avoided penalty kicks to remain undefeated, winning the district title 2-1 in overtime.

Then Jones flew.

His takeoff occurred seconds after Alan Peters lobbed a free kick deep into the penalty area with 1:40 remaining in the fourth overtime before penalty kicks. Donny Greiwe, one of the tallest players on the field, headed the ball away from keeper Will Watts to Spencer Anderson, who finished the game with another header into the net.

Watts was told he was starting after regular keeper Chris Munday and his brother were involved in an auto accident Wednesday morning in which their Yukon rolled three times. Both players are questionable for the region tournament.

Jones took one final look to make sure the referee allowed the goal and immediately jumped into Peters' arms as the rest of the team celebrated at the end of the field.

"I must be getting old because I can't really jump anymore. He kind of lifted me up," Jones said. "Everybody else was down there jumping around, I just wanted to find a white jersey."

It was a flight that almost didn't take off.

After Mike Magriby's goal was disallowed when the referee called a foul just as he made contact, Sickles stormed down the field and scored on a Chaz Jansen's heel pass to John Vergara, who split two defenders and buried a line drive. It was the first goal Plant allowed on its home field this season.

Gryphon players bounced excitedly on the sideline in anticipation of their first district title but were quieted by an Obi Ifeanyi goal with 1:30 remaining in regulation. It was similar to a Sickles-Plant game earlier this season that saw the Panthers tie the game with less than a minute left.

"Deja vu," Sickles coach Mike Rady said. "We got the lucky bounce Tuesday, they got it tonight. I don't think anyone would argue with the fact that we were all over them tonight. We will see them again in regionals."

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