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Titans Sports

TBT rallies to surprise Plant

Posted Saturday, September 05, 2009 by KATHERINE SMITH
When C.C. Culpepper was introduced in the school cafeteria as the new coach of the Tampa Bay Tech Titans three years ago, he made a bold prediction to the student body.

"I told them in year three, we will win a state championship," Culpepper said. "If this doesn't set the tone to do that, I don't know what else will."

Culpepper's Titans completed a remarkable come-from-behind victory at Dad's Stadium on Friday night, defeating the defending state champion Plant Panthers, 32-30.

Tech capitalized on numerous second-half Panthers mistakes as Plant blew a 24-0 third-quarter lead. Two second-half turnovers by the Panthers led to Titans touchdowns.

With 5:19 left in the game, Tech took the lead for the first time, taking advantage of a Plant turnover.

On a controversial call, officials ruled that Plant wideout Deandre Queen fumbled as he stretched his arm for extra yardage. Panthers coaches argued that Queen was down.

"I didn't see it, but all I know is that all night it was rough for us on our sideline," said Culpepper, whose team was penalized 12 times for 76 yards. "So to get it back our way, I thank God."

On the next play, Tech junior quarterback Jonathon Williams hit sophomore Clouner LaCount for a 30-yard touchdown reception. A two-point conversion gave the Titans a 32-30 lead. It was only the second completion of the game for Williams.

Tech rode Maurice Hagens, who had 147 yards on 31 carries. Hagens accounted for almost all of the Titans' 218 offensive yards.

The senior fullback, who has verbally committed to Miami, cramped up several times in the second half, but he remained in the game.

"This let's my team know that we're here to play this season," Hagens said. "The seniors just picked everybody up. We kept our spirits up."

With Plant starting quarterback Phillip Ely sidelined with a stress fracture in his lower back, Plant relied on junior running back/defensive end James Wilder Jr. for most of the game.

Wilder accounted for 73 of the Panthers' 113 offensive yards and two touchdowns.


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