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Plant battles, but the two-time state champ is too much.
By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published November 19, 2005
SEFFNER - It was hard not to come away from Friday's Armwood-Plant game impressed with both programs. Armwood won 24-6 to keep alive its hopes of winning a third straight Class 4A title. And in defeat, Plant, which had a losing record a year ago, proved to be the Hawks' toughest opponent in months and possibly laid the foundation for future success.
"We expected that," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "That's a first-class group. They're well-coached, and they played more tough than we thought. Their coaches had them ready."
Being ready for Armwood (11-1) is one thing.
Beating it is another. The victory was the Hawks' 40th in 41 games on the field (a 2004 game was forfeited). They've allowed 63 points all season, 42 in the past 11 games. Plant scored 21 or more points in nine of its first 11 games, but managed only nine first downs and 110 yards (66 came on one fourth-quarter drive). Still, Armwood's victory wasn't sealed until late in the fourth when the Hawks sacked Plant quarterback Robert Marve deep in Armwood territory.
Plant's defense was itself a force despite giving up quite a few more yards than its counterpart. Armwood finished with 314 yards rushing, but the Panthers (9-3) kept the Hawks from hitting any big plays until the fourth quarter.
That was one thing that kept Plant in it. Another was Dylan Brown's 84-yard second-quarter kickoff return, which came with 9:50 left in the half. Moments earlier, Armwood had taken a 12-0 lead on Eric Smith's 16-yard run and it appeared as though the Hawks were ready to drop the hammer on yet another opponent.
Brown's return excited the crowd and energized his teammates. Armwood drove into Plant territory on its next possession, but fumbled the ball away on the Panthers 27. At the half, it remained 12-6 much to the shock of Armwood faithful, who had watched their team steamroll one opponent after another.
Entering the fourth, Armwood led just 17-6, but a 40-yard Smith touchdown run gave the Hawks a little more of a cushion.
Plant didn't quit, responding with a drive to the Armwood 3. But on fourth down, Marve was quickly flushed from the pocket and dropped at the 9.