TAMPA – Winning is something that the Robinson girls flag football team has been accustomed to doing under the command of head coach Josh Saunders.
Coming off just their sixth loss in the last five seasons and their first this year, the Knights went to Dad’s Stadium to face an undefeated Plant Panthers squad on Monday night. Robinson came away with the win, 19-13 on a late touchdown to improve to 8-1 on the year.
Quarterback Kayla Knowlton stood tall in the pocket to find senior captain Megan Bohan on a 27-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Bohan initially didn’t realize that the touchdown counted, but then her teammates celebrated with her to make it known it was indeed the game-winning grab.
Bohan didn’t make the trip to the Capital City Classic Tournament at Florida A&M last weekend because of an IB exam. However, she made up for it in a big way with the score. Saunders says Bohan made a great play and that it was nice for her to step up because she was down about not being able to be there in the loss to Tallahassee Lincoln on Saturday.
“We thought because we had featured McKenna Tyson so much in the game that we could get the safety to commit to her and throw it down the middle to [Megan] Bohan,” Saunders, a 1993 Robinson graduate and current head coach said.
For Saunders and his group, they’ve put together an outstanding 67-5 record over the last four seasons which includes a 2014 state title, four straight state tournament appearances and four straight district titles. To pull off the upset over rival Plant (4-1) was huge and now it should get the Knights back on track with three games left in the regular season (Apr. 7: Chamberlain, Apr. 11: Spoto, Apr. 18: Alonso).
“Despite our success, when you lose a game doubt creeps in about if you are doing things right and especially for our first-year quarterback Kayla Knowlton, who struggled in the two games against tough competition,” Saunders said. “It’s also always good when you can beat your rival.”
Saunders noted how impressive it was to see Knowlton make plays up against a Plant team that he says will be a state title contender with junior quarterback Payton Paro under center. Paro tossed two touchdowns on the night including the first to Sam Ashby and the second to Allyson Abbey to tie the game at 13 in the third quarter.
Senior captains McKenna Tyson and Emily Draper made things happen all night for Robinson. Tyson hauled in a 12-yard touchdown on the first offensive play following a Kelly Dorsey interception to give the Knights offense the ball early. Draper had a one-yard touchdown and two big runs (32 and 45 yards).
Robinson ranks first in all of Class 1A following the win, according to FloridaHSFootball.com. Plant is No. 3 in 2A.
The Knights fell just short of a second straight state title losing to Seminole Ridge in the final last May, the same team they beat the year prior to win it all. They are a fun team to watch and this latest victory should help build confidence moving forward.
Later this month, the district tournament starts on April 25. For Saunders and his deep and athletic team, the time is now to get focused and start another run to the top. This is a dangerous group that seems to always be adding new and emerging players. With Bohan, Draper and Tyson picking up big chunks for this offense, it should only make life easier for the rest of this team.
In his ninth year, Saunders and his coaching staff have a plan of attack that continues to work and place Robinson among the elites not only in the Tampa Bay area but in the entire state. The upset win over a high-powered Plant attack is just another resume-building game.
Stats credit: The Tampa Tribune’s Jarrett Guthrie was at the game and provided me with the stats.
Photo credit: Isabel Hanewicz. You can follow all of her great photography work on Twitter: @hanewiczphotos
— Robinson Knights (@RobinsonKnights) April 5, 2016
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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