Knights come back to defeat Panthers 20-13


Photo Isabel Hanewicz

Emily Draper (’17) makes a jumping catch to get the extra point and tie the game at 14 in the fourth quarter.

Macy McClintock, Sports Editor

In the South Tampa battle for flag football bragging rights, the Plant Panthers, ranked number two in 2A, fell to the Knights, ranked number one in 1A, 20-13 on Wednesday night in front of a loud home crowd.

“That’s a great team. That’s a team that is going to be competing for a state title,” head coach Joshua Saunders said. “That was a state playoff game. You can’t ask for a more competitive game than that.”

The Panthers got off to an early start, scoring quickly into the first quarter. The Knights were unable to make any heavy offensive drives and with three seconds remaining in the half, the Knights allowed for the Panthers to put up another touchdown.

Down 13-0 heading into halftime, Saunders’ pep talk sparked something in the Knights.

“It wasn’t the nicest halftime speech I have ever given,” Saunders said. “I told them that we were either going to lose 35-0 or comeback and win 14-13. They did even better than that and won 20-13.”

Emily Kemp (’20) ran for 50 yards to put the Knights on the board late in the third quarter.

Still down 13-6, Olivia Salzman (’17) threw a 15 yard pass to Cassidy Renninger (’18) in the end zone, with Emily Draper (’17) catching the extra point to tie the game. With less than a minute left, Salzman found Kemp again to score and seal the victory.

“The first touchdown felt like a giant sigh of relief. It helped the team think that we weren’t down by that much and were still in the game,” Kemp, who ended the night with two touchdowns and an interception, said. “The game itself was really exciting in the end and we are all really proud of the comeback.”

The Knights face Hillsborough on Friday, April 8, at 7 p.m. at Robinson High School (6311 S Lois Ave, Tampa, FL 33616). The game is called “Friday Night Lights” and will feature the band and cheerleaders.