Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Preseason football: Manatee 48, Plant 10

Plant’s James Wilder Jr., one of the nation’s top recruits and an FSU commit, can’t elude the grasp of a Manatee defender.


Plant’s James Wilder Jr., one of the nation’s top recruits and an FSU commit, can’t elude the grasp of a Manatee defender.

BRADENTON — ESPN tried to coax a playoff atmosphere out of a preseason game, and initially, Plant obliged.

They talked as if this exhibition rematch of a state final was real. There was momentum to attain, impressions to make, stars to showcase.

But as the fourth-quarter running clock mercifully wound down and the 6,000 or so fans filed out of Hawkins Stadium late Friday, the Panther partisans could only find consolation in the fact this one didn't count.

Technically, anyway.

On a humid night, Plant lost its aura of invincibility, some of its swagger, and even its quarterback for a stretch in a 48-10 loss to Manatee that ended with Division I-A commitments James Wilder Jr. and Tony Posada nursing cramps.

Not to mention a team — ranked No. 2 in the Powerade ESPN Rise Fab 50 coming in — nursing its psyche.

"We're a team that's always been able to turn a negative into a positive," said Panthers coach Robert Weiner, whose squad also lost to the Hurricanes in the 2009 preseason before rebounding to top Manatee in the Class 5A final.

"This is where you find out whether they have the mental makeup or not."

Before Plant's wheels came off, Antonio Crawford showcased his. On the game's first play, the 5-foot-11 junior took a short swing pass from Phillip Ely and darted up the Manatee sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.

From there, the 'Canes embarked on a 48-3 run.

Manatee responded with a six-play, 53-yard scoring drive capped by wildcat formation quarterback Mike Blakely's 2-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Krull.

Two Panther possessions later, Ely injured his lower right leg after being tackled inside his own red zone and fumbling. Manatee scored the next play and Ely exited the rest of the half.

Weiner said Ely, who returned in the second half and unofficially finished with 154 passing yards, stretched a muscle in the leg. Ely said afterward his leg was "perfect."

His defense, manhandled up front and occasionally discombobulated in the back, wasn't. Nor were the Panthers' special teams; new kicker Grant Van Aman made two TD-saving tackles on long 'Cane returns.

Manatee made it 21-7 when Blakely broke at least a half-dozen tackles on a sweep play for an 89-yard TD. Three plays later, Ely backup Nick Sanders fumbled inside his 20 after taking a vicious hit in his backfield.

Manatee lefty Cord Sandberg tossed the first of his two TDs the next play. Sandberg finished with nearly 200 total yards.

"This was a true test tonight and obviously it didn't turn out the way we wanted it," Ely said. "But I'm going to will this team to win."

Bradenton Manatee 48

Preseason football: Manatee 48, Plant 10 08/28/10 [Last modified: Saturday, August 28, 2010 1:17am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.