BRADENTON — Underdog Palm Harbor University did its best to foil Manatee's Homecoming on Friday by scoring in the waning seconds of the first half to pull within 10 points in a Class 8A, District 6 matchup. After the pomp and circumstance, however, Manatee scored 28 unanswered points in the second half for a 51-13 win.
Key plays: There were three big ones for the visiting 'Canes and TJ Colmery had his hands in each. First, he recovered his second fumble of the game with Palm Harbor U. trailing 23-6 and just 51 seconds left until halftime. Colmery then hooked up with quarterback Wyatt Beasey on a 35-yard sideline pass before crossing along the back of the end zone to haul in a 12-yard scoring pass that pulled the 'Canes within 10 points (23-13) of the host Hurricanes.
Key drives: Although Palm Harbor U. (1-3, 0-2) did not score on its opening possession, it proved it could give Manatee a game. The 'Canes' 14-play, 77-yard drive stalled on the Manatee 4-yard line after a Beasey incompletion on fourth down. After Manatee took a 7-0 lead by scoring on its first possession, PHU needed just five plays to go 65 yards for a touchdown as Beasey connected with Josh McKee on a 41-yard pass.
Stars of the game: With Palm Harbor U.'s running game stalled — a meager 16 rushing yards — the offense relied on the accurate right arm of Beasey, who completed 22-of-41 for 300 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two interceptions. Beasey's favorite target was Colmery, who had 10 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. Just for good measure, Colmery also had two fumble recoveries.
Key stat: Aside from the statistics of Beasey and Colmery, six 'Canes had at least one catch. McKee had three receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown on just two drives. He left the game with an injured right ankle and right knee after his scoring catch.
Last word: "When you have a passing offense it feels pretty good. As a receiver it's great. You know you want the ball coming your way all the time." — McKee