TAMPA – Juwan Burgess put the game on ice with just one minute left. After two kneels by quarterback Dane Frantzen out of the victory formation, the Plant Panthers rushed the field and celebrated their 27-19 state semifinal win over Lee.
The Generals didn’t go down without a fight. Tyrique Thomas hauled in a 25-yard reception on the final drive. Moments after Derrick Jones couldn’t connect with Donnie Weatherspoon deep.
Burgess picked Jones off on a tipped pass one play later and Plant (13-0) held on. The Panthers are back in the state title game for the first time since a 2011 crown. They’ll play two-time defending champion St. Thomas Aquinas next Friday in Orlando.
Senior quarterback Dane Frantzen accounted for all four touchdowns for Plant, passing for two and rushing for two more.
Frantzen, a lifelong fan of Plant football is at the forefront of the Panthers success. He was lost for words after the win.
“It’s crazy,” an exhausted Frantzen said. “I don’t even know. I can’t explain it. I don’t even feel it yet honestly.”
The senior combined for 251 yards. He hit De’Angelo Philyor for a six-yard touchdown and Kyle Trina for a 14-yard score in the first half.
Frantzen scored on an elusive 21-yard run in the third quarter. Then later in the quarter, he snuck in for a four-yard score, perhaps the biggest of the night as Plant moved ahead 27-13 (video here).
“Honestly, it hasn’t even hit me yet,” Frantzen said. “I know we are going to states. I just can’t wrap my head around it. I don’t believe it.”
Perhaps the biggest x-factor on the night besides Frantzen was Trina. The senior athlete moved to wide receiver three weeks ago with David Scroggins suffering an ankle injury.
Trina, a quarterback first said he tested out running back earlier in the season but made the move successfully to wideout. After catching five passes for 62 yards the past two weeks, he had 85 yards and a touchdown on seven touches (six catches and one run).
He says getting out in open space and being a difference maker on offense was a part of the game plan this week.
“I was filling in for David [Scroggins] and I had to jump in there,” Trina said. “I feel comfortable there. I’ve had a couple of weeks of practice there now and I’m loving it actually.”
Trina really stretched the field for the Panthers. Along with De’Angelo Philyor who had a touchdown and a big 42-yard grab moments before Frantzen’s final score of the night, the Panthers made use of their weapons.
Lee made it a game with 3:49 left as Jurial Caldwell burned Plant’s defense for a 69-yard touchdown reception. However, the Generals (10-2) failed to convert on the two-point conversion.
Caldwell had a 30-yard touchdown (video here) early in the third quarter. Philyor blocked the extra point to keep the advantage at eight points, 21-13.
For Lee, Jones finished with 278 total yards and three touchdown passes. He had two long runs in the second half of 27 and 52 yards.
Thomas ended the night with 72 yards on three catches for the Generals.
Plant recorded an interception on the game’s opening drive, by the way of Aaron King.
These games get tougher as the playoffs move forward and Plant grinded another victory out at home.
Going up against a highly successful St. Thomas Aquinas program won’t be easy. They took down Venice on Friday night 46-8 to advance.
13th-year head coach Robert Weiner has a fantastic staff and his players buy into his message every season. Taking the home environment to Camping World Stadium will be key for these Panthers.
Look forward to another battle next week in Orlando between Plant and St. Thomas Aquinas with the state title on the line.
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at email@example.com.