BRADENTON -- Defense may win championships.
But offense is the reason Manatee left Hawkins Stadium on Friday night with its perfect record intact.
This according to Canes coach Joe Kinnan moments after Manatee defeated Weston Cypress Bay 42-20.
"We ended up having to outscore them," Kinnan said. "Our defense had the worst game I've ever seen them play against the run. We were non-existent out there as far as stopping run.
"We just had to keep sticking it in the end zone."
The Class 8A Lightning (4-2) totaled 322 yards on 52 carries, an average of more than 6 yards per attempt, and 256 rushing yards in the second half.
Matt Dayes (156 yards) and Marquese Dudley-Gordon (112 yards) took turns gutting Manatee up the middle or zipping around the ends, while quarterback Tay Lewis (47 yards on nine carries) wasn't easy to bring down, either.
Luckily for Manatee (6-0), its prolific offense kept humming even without Anthony Lau
ro, the senior running back/wide receiver who will miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery earlier this week.
Cypress Bay closed to within 14-7 in the third quarter and had the ball on its own 36 before a holding call, a false start and an intentional grounding penalty backed the Lighting up 33 yards and forced a punt. Manatee scored moments later when Cord Sandberg hit a wide open Marquel Hines for a 22-yard touchdown strike with 3:43 left in the period.
And after Dayes fumbled on the first play of Cypress Bay's next drive -- the Lightning committed three turnovers -- Sandberg and Hines struck again. This time, Hines took a lateral, sprinted up the right sideline and capped the 13-yard touchdown run by diving and hitting the pylon.
Consequently, Manatee took a 28-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
"On film and watching them in the first half, we knew they wanted to have plays breaking away and putting points on the board," said Sandberg, who rushed for 106 yards and threw for 194 despite getting picked off for the first time this season. "We knew we had to score, and putting points on the board was definitely big in this game."
Hines was key, as well, totaling 81 yards of offense and scoring three times in the second half.
Kelvin McKnight, who has taken Lauro's spot in the lineup, exploded for a 15-yard touchdown run reception in the first quarter.
"Since Anthony's out, now everyone does have to step up," Sandberg said. "Marquel Hines, McKnight, those guys are going to have to play big. And they did a great job (Friday)."
Manatee heads to Venice next week in a game that will probably decide the Class 7A-District 10 championship, though Kinnan wants to see a defensive improvement before then.
"I'm just disappointed," Kinnan said. "We just stood back and caught."