BRADENTON -- A week after showing off its explosiveness, Manatee's football team exhibited another admirable trait Friday: resiliency.
Powered by a swarming defense and a relentless second-half running game, the Hurricanes overcame an awful start to score a 35-14 win over rival Venice on Friday at Hawkins Stadium.
The start of the game was delayed an hour by lightning.
By beating Venice, the Hurricanes (2-0), the state's top-ranked team in Class 8A, remained unbeaten against teams from Manatee and Sarasota counties since 2009.
Early on, however, that streak looked to be in jeopardy.
The Indians, looking to beat Manatee for the first time in seven tries, took a 7-0 lead when quarterback Dom Marino rolled to his right and hit a wide open Terry Polk for a 59-yard pass and catch.
Roughly a minute later, Ben Chisolm stepped in front of a Josh Meyer pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown, arming Venice (1-1) with a 14-0 lead with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
Worse yet, Manatee, coming off a short week following Sunday's opener in Maryland, watched Meyer and Trevon Walters reinjure their ankles.
But the Canes stormed back, beginning when Walters' 1-yard leap produced a touchdown 2:32 before half. And after Raland Brewer blocked Venice punt, Marquel Hines, who played a little quarterback to spell Meyer during the first half, scampered five yards for the equalizer less than four minutes into the second half.
"They sucked it up," Manatee coach Joe Kinnan of his team. "(Venice) has a good team, they're well-coached, they played hard, but I think
the fact a lot of their kids had to go both ways in the second half, I thought that was the difference."
Manatee took a 21-14 lead with 1:32 left in the third on a 19-yard run by Johnnie Lang, and Walters (172 yards on 21 carries) and Lang (106 yards on seven carries) padded the advantage with long scoring runs in the fourth quarter.
The Canes have outscored their first two opponents 55-0 in the second half this year.
"I started picking it up, and the O-line was doing a (heck) of a job," Walters said. "I give all the credit to all my O-line. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did."
The defense tightened up, as well, limiting Polk to 62 yards on 21 carries a week after he ran for 227 yards against Palmetto.
"Bend but don't break. They did a good job," Kinnan said.
Manatee gets a full week to prepare for next week's game against Maryland's Friendship Collegiate Academy, and Kinnan is hopeful the Canes will be healed up by then, especially since wide receiver Brodrick Yancy (ankle) was held out Friday.
"Players that are hurt will get treatment (today). Everbody should be good," he said, "and on Monday, be ready for practice."