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Manatee falls to Plant 21-14 on windy night in Orlando


Time wasn't on their side tonight.


Manatee High School's Hurricanes made a valiant effort in their Class-5A championship game Friday night in Orlando, but some key penalties for delay of game, a failed attempt at a fourth down conversion and four straight incomplete passes by Brion Carnes left them the runner-up as Plant won 21-14.


Plant had taken a 21-0 lead into the half and the Hurricanes came back with some key passes by Carnes to Ace Sanders and others. But a late turnover on downs after the four incompletes left them with no timeouts and Plant in possession and eager to run down the clock to game end.


First-half frustration

Manatee came close a couple of times in the first half, but just couldn't get the key first down when they needed it.


Before the Hurricanes' first posssession, Plant's Panthers took a 7-0 lead.


A penalty on Carnes for intentional grounding and an incomplete pass on 3rd and 20 forced a Manatee kickoff, but the Hurricanes got a new lease on life and set of downs after a penalty on Plant for roughing the kicker.


But Manatee couldn't capitalize and had to give the ball back. A face-mask penalty against Manatee helped Plant get closer to the end zone, and a touchdown and extra point soon after put Plant up 14-0.


Plant couldn't get it together for a kickoff, being penalized 10 yards for two penalties, delay of game and offsides.


But again, the Hurricanes started strong but failed to bring the ball home. When Plant got the ball back it started another drive and then scored on a long run and the extra point for a 21-0 lead at the half.


Second-half resurgence

Manatee came on strong in the second half, and on a risky 4th and 6 situation on the 35, a pass for a touchdown put Manatee on the board. With the extra point, it was 21-7.


The Hurrricanes pulled off a successful onside kick and recovered the ball, but then on the first play Carnes was intercepted. The Manatee defense came through, though, and Plant was forced to kick it away, which put the Hurricanes back in control inside their own 25 yard line.


With a 3rd and 15 after a penalty, an incomplete pass and a poor run, Carnes connected to Mike Blakely and the Hurricanes found themselves with an 87-yard gain. Another touchdown and extra point gave the Manatee fans in the Citrus Bowl hope, but Plant managed to regroup and stop the offense.


Late in the game, on fourth and inches, Manatee went for it but Carnes' failure to push hard enough on a quarterback sneak turned the ball over to Plant on downs.


A final turnover on downs gave Plant the ball with less than 40 seconds left, and they took a knee to claim the title.


For Manatee, it was the end of a season that saw some huge wins, like last week's over the No. 1-ranked team in the country, St. Thomas Aquinas. For several players it was their last high school football game. For the rest, under coach Joe Kinnan, there's always next year.


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