BRADENTON -- For more than 21 minutes at Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium, Manatee couldn't find a way to get the football into Kavious Price's hands. Palm Harbor University was loading up the edges to bottle up the Canes' outside running plays, negating Manatee's most dynamic offensive weapon.
The Canes' final chance to get Price involved during the first half came with a matter of seconds left from their own 38-yard line. Price darted from the right to left behind A.J. Colagiovanni and took a pitch from the quarterback. The wide receiver hit the edge and set his feet to heave a pass down to the 30. Tarique Milton leapt to win a jump ball on
the underthrown pass. He shoved the cornerback out of the play and ran the rest of the way. Manatee's halftime lead ballooned to 33, effectively sealing its 43-3 win against district opponent Palm Harbor before the second half began.
"I told him, 'Don't get frustrated,'" Booth said. "'You're going to get your opportunities.'"
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In all, Price only got four opportunities Friday. He touched the ball first on a short kickoff by PHU, then once as a passer and twice as a runner. All four times he helped the Canes (4-2, 3-0) reach the end zone.
His first touch of the game followed Manatee's second touchdown. The Canes recognized an unprepared Palm Harbor (4-2, 2-2) defense and Price dashed into the end zone for a 15-0 lead.
After the lead had already stretched to 22-3, Price began to push the game out of reach.
PHU floated a short kickoff toward right sideline, which Price fielded off a bounce at the 32. He hesitated for a moment to let the left side clear out, then headed for that sideline. A hole opened and Price burst through for the first of his two touchdowns.
"They did a great job trying to squeeze me out of our offensive package," Price said, "so you kind of get hungry when you can't touch the ball."
His next touch was the pass, which is a play Manatee spent the week working on. The end-around gives him the option to take off for a run or heave a ball down the field and Wednesday in practice it played out the same way it did against Palm Harbor.
"If you're in trouble," Booth told Price, "throw the ball up, let them make a play."
Price's 62 yards gave him only 28 fewer than Colagiovanni, who went 8-for-11 for 90 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. The junior quarterback also ran for 74 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
When the second half began, the Canes made a more decisive effort to get Price the ball. They went three-and-out to open the third quarter and began their second drive at PHU's 49.
This time Price lined up as a wildcat quarterback. He ran a trap into some traffic and bounced away from a pair of tacklers. He danced and shimmied backward until he found the right sideline, where the 4A track and field state champion could run a 40-yard dash into the end zone for his first rushing touchdown of the year.
Price, who entered the game with four touchdown catches, is only the second player in Manatee County with a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown this year, joining Palmetto running back - and former Cane teammate -- Octavious James.
"I get the aggression of trying to get in the end zone," Price said, "and I think I did a solid job doing that when I got the chance."