Plant 49, Northeast 12
Plant's Aaron Murray needs one more passing TD to tie the single-season state record.
By DON JENSEN, Times Correspondent
Published November 17, 2007
TAMPA - A kickoff return for a touchdown, a successful onside kick and three touchdown passes, two covering at least 50 yards. And that was just in the first quarter.
Plant left little doubt to its intentions in the Class 4A region quarterfinals as the defending state champion smothered Northeast 49-12 Friday night.
The Panthers' special teams sparked a 29-point first quarter, and junior quarterback Aaron Murray had another special performance. Murray threw for 378 yards and six touchdowns to pull within one of the state record of 48 scoring passes in a season. The mark is owned by former Plant quarterback Robert Marve, a University of Miami freshman who set the standard last year in the Panthers' championship season.
"Aaron is just a good player and he makes good plays all the time," Plant receiver Kevin James said. "He knows his receivers and the rest of his team has his back. With that, I don't think we can lose."
James was one of three Plant receivers with 100-yard, two-touchdown games. All of Murray's 16 completions and yardage went to Lovell Jackson (144 yards), Derek Winter (105) and James (129). Murray threw 26 times with one interception.
After catching Murray's final scoring pass in the third quarter, James jogged toward teammate Cornelius Gallon, who was sitting in a wheelchair beyond the end zone after recent season-ending knee surgery.
"I told him I'm just trying to step up more and dedicating the season to him," James said.
James Harrell's 83-yard kickoff return with 10:45 left in the first quarter nullified a 60-yard touchdown run by Northeast's Jeff Brinson (142 yards), putting Plant in front for good.