Friday night’s spring game at Lake Gibson High School was the final one for Manatee head coach John Booth.
Even with a late rally, however, Manatee could not send him off with a victory against the Class 6A runners-up from last season. The Hurricanes fell 23-21 at Virgil Ramage Stadium.
“Lake Gibson is obviously a fantastic football team,” Booth said. “We had some opportunities that we missed early.”
Keyon Fordham led the Hurricanes’ offense. The sophomore scored on a 12-yard pass from Ryan Overstreet in the second quarter and on a 77-yard run while playing quarterback. He finished with 99 rushing yards on nine carries and 15 receiving yards on five catches. He contributed 86 yards as a kick returner.
Overstreet, a freshman, completed 12 of 19 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one costly interception: Lake Gibson corner Antonio Ware recorded it in the fourth quarter with Manatee trailing 23-14.
On the next drive, Overstreet connected with junior Javarius Pollock on a 32-yard touchdown pass that brought the Hurricanes within two, 23-21, after a Brandon Sweeney extra point.
Junior running back Josh Booker was also an offensive force for the Hurricanes. He finished the game with 33 yards on six rushing attempts. Pollock was the Hurricanes’ leading receiver, snagging eight passes for 53 yards.
Lake Gibson junior Travell Jones, who scored 25 touchdowns as a running back in 2016, played quarterback for the Braves.
He began the game with a 60-yard quarterback draw, and he scored a rushing touchdown in the second quarter. He completed a 36-yard scoring pass to sophomore Chris Howard that gave Lake Gibson a 23-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. Jones finished the game with 140 rushing yards on 17 carries, and he completed 5 of 9 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Nursing a 23-21 lead with only four minutes left, the Braves leaned on Jones, who rushed for a crucial first down that allowed Lake Gibson to run down the clock. The Braves eventually punted with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Overstreet completed a 32-yard pass to Pollock, but the Hurricanes’ drive stalled, handing the ball back to the Braves to run out the final seconds.
Booth, who announced his resignation in April, has stayed on with the Hurricanes through spring workouts as the school has searched for his successor.
“Its tough,” Booth said. “We were hoping to go out on a win, but I couldn’t be happier about how they competed; not only tonight but all spring. That’s been hovering over them all spring and they didn’t let that bother them. We were right there until the very end.”
The Hurricanes have their preseason classic scheduled for Aug. 18 in Seffner against Armwood, which will also be guided by a new head coach after longtime coach Sean Callahan announced his resignation on Friday.