A.J. Colagiovanni lingered an extra moment with John Booth after Manatee High School broke the final huddle of his career as a Hurricane. He had been battered during the second half as the Hurricanes’ offense unraveled against Orlando Dr. Phillips in the Class 8A-Region 2 quarterfinals. For the second straight year, Dr. Phillips bounced the Canes from the playoffs, only this time the Panthers did it with a suffocating defensive effort.
Booth, the head coach who also works extensively with the quarterbacks, tried to console Colagiovanni as the senior wiped tears from his eyes. Ryan Overstreet, the backup quarterback, reminded Colagiovanni of all the accolades his career had yielded. A 39-7 loss at the hands of Dr. Phillips on Friday in Orlando couldn’t erase them.
“It’s disappointing,” Booth said. “I’m disappointed for our season. You never want it to end, and I’m disappointed with the ending.”
For only the third time, the Canes failed to score more than 33 points. Five of Manatee’s six second half drives ended in four plays or fewer. The sixth ended in the end zone when Colagiovanni was picked off for the second time. After a promising start, the Hurricanes’ offense faded, and Dr. Phillips methodically piled on points to rout the Canes at Bill Spoone Stadium.
“I thought we played really well in the first half,” Booth said. “We kind of just self-destructed.”
Manatee struck first with a 46-yard touchdown from Colagiovanni to wide receiver Tarique Milton less than two minutes into the second half and trailed by only two entering the break after perhaps the Hurricanes’ best defensive performance of the season. Dr. Phillips, though, wound up scoring the game’s final 39 points to bury the Canes during the second half.
The Panthers clawed down the field during the final drive of the first half, marching from near midfield into the red zone with about a minute left. A pair of sacks by Seth Walter, who started both at guard and defensive end for Manatee, held Dr. Phillips to a field goal, but that was enough for the Panthers to take the lead. With the ball coming its way in the second half, Dr. Phillips had flipped the pressure toward the Hurricanes.
“We needed a big stop,” Colagiovanni said. “But the defense had been playing great the whole game. We can’t just lean on them.”
Dr. Phillips opened the second half with a 48-yard run up the middle and punched in a touchdown five plays later to take a 16-7 lead. The Canes responded by going three-and-out. After stalling another Panthers drive, Manatee went three and out again, only this one ended with a blocked punt back through its own end zone for a safety. The Hurricanes didn’t just fall behind even further — they became desperate.
The Canes tried a fake punt from their 25-yard line to end the next drive and failed. Dr. Phillips scored another touchdown in three plays. Two plays into Manatee’s next drive, Colagiovanni tried to evade pressure, but floated a pass into the hands of Dr. Phillips defensive end Robert Porcher IV for a pick six.
Porcher was the most fearsome member of the Panthers’ dominant front seven Friday. The senior sacked Colagiovanni a play earlier and dropped him in the backfield again on the Canes’ next drive.
Manatee positioned Friday as the rubber match — the Hurricanes eliminated Dr. Phillips two years ago — but this year the Panthers were too deep up front for the Canes and a burgeoning rivalry ended in anticlimax.
“They’re really good up front,” Booth said. “We were going to have to match that. I thought we did a good job of that in the first half. In the second half they brought a little bit more pressure than they did in the first half and they just got to us.”
Orlando Dr. Phillips 39, Manatee 7
M— Tarique Milton 46 pass from A.J. Colagiovanni (Daniel Reyna kick), 10:45
DP— Davarius Bargnare 55 pass from Marvin Washington (kick failed), 7:11
DP— Sterling Stockwell 32 field goal, 0:00
DP— Kenneth Palmer 1 run (Stockwell kick), 9:41
DP— Safety, 3:45
DP— Emare Hogan 16 run (Stockwell kick), 8:47
DP— Robert Porcher IV 23 interception return (Stockwell kick), 7:32
DP— Xandr'e McCleary 44 run (Stockwell kick), 0:33
Rushing: Manatee 26-43: Colagiovanni 12-9, Joshua Booker 8-23, Keyon Fordham 5-13, Milton1-(-2). Dr. Phillips 41-28: Washington 8-40, McCleary 3-53, D.J. Charles 1-9, Jequan Burton 1-(-2), Palmer 7-56, Hogan 10-68, Devodney Alford 8-32, Brandon Fields 3-32.
Passing: Manatee 15-31-2, 185: Colagiovanni 15-30-2, 185, Hamady Diallo 0-1-0, 0. Dr. Phillips 14-26-1, 165: Washington 14-26-1, 165.
Receiving: Manatee 15-185: Xavier Stuart 1-12, Milton X-XX, Javaius Pollock 3-11, Jadan Robinson 2-2, Booker 1-3, Jernard Porter 2-68, Shane Hooks 1-5, Fordham 1-9. Dr. Phillips 14-165: Burton 1-0, Caleb Walls 4-43, Bargnare 5-73, Hogan 3-43, Charles 1-6.