ST. PETERSBURG — Manatee scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to defeat St. Petersburg 51-13 in a Class 8A, District 7 matchup.
With the victory the Hurricanes (7-0) clinch the district while the Green Devils (5-2) will play Sarasota Riverview on Nov. 1 to decide the runnerup.
Manatee running back Trevon Walters rushed for 287 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Hurricanes past a gritty St. Petersburg squad that had several opportunities to put pressure on the top-ranked team in 8A.
Trailing 7-0, St. Petersburg made a big play on special teams when Anthony Foster blocked a punt and set up the Green Devils with a first down in the red zone. Three plays later Deangelo Reeves scored on a 5-yard run to make the first-quarter score 7-6.
Manatee took a 16-6 lead into halftime and extended it to 23-6 on Walters' second touchdown run. The Hurricanes were driving again and looking to put a stamp on the game when St. Petersburg defensive back Jake Moore stepped in front of an attempted screen pass and returned it for a touchdown.
The Hurricanes needed just four plays on their next possession to increase the lead to 30-13 as Walters scored from 1 yard out. The Green Devils tried to answer with their best drive of the game, going 51 yards on nine plays, but failed to convert a fourth and 4.
"We had some opportunities but we made too many mental mistakes," said St. Pete coach Joe Fabrizio. "You have to play a perfect game against those guys.
"I thought we fought hard but let everything get away at the end."
Reeves had 76 yards rushing to lead the Green Devils. Marquel Hines added a 75-yard punt return in the fourth quarter for Manatee.
Corey Long, Times correspondent