PALMETTO -- It wasn't pretty, but it was a win.
Such was the message Manatee coach Joe Kinnan gave his Hurricanes following Friday's 35-14 win over Palmetto.
No, the Hurricanes didn't go into Harllee Stadium and record another rout or engineer yet another running clock.
Heck, the game was tied after three quarters.
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But they got the result they wanted, and Manatee takes a 7-0 mark into next week's pivotal Class 8A-District 7 game at St. Petersburg.
"We kept hanging in there," said Kinnan, whose team hasn't lost to a Manatee County team since 2006. "(Palmetto) was well coached, they played hard, they made a lot plays. People we had played before had missed those tackles.
"I just think our superior size and depth, it made the difference in the fourth quarter."
That's when Manatee made its move, taking a 21-14 when Marquel Hines scored on a 7-yard reverse during the period's first play from scrimmage.
After forcing a Palmetto punt, the Hurricanes padded the lead when quarterback Josh Meyer muscled his way in from the 4, making the score 28-14
with 7:51 remaining.
Running back Johnnie Lang added yet another touchdown, this one coming on a 17-yard scamper, with 3:24 to go to salt the win away.
"We gave it our best shot," said Tigers coach Dave Palmetto.
Palmetto (3-3) got another big night from running back Josh Hicks, whose 70-yard touchdown run with 1:32 remaining in the first quarter tied the game at 7 before his 95-yard kickoff return to open the second half knotted the score at 14.
But the Tigers were flagged for 68 yards of penalties in the first half, including one for illegal blocking that wiped away Simon Williams' 10-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
"You can't do that. You've got to take advantage, you've got to capitalize on those opportunities," Marino said. "It would have changed the momentum big time in the first half.
"(Manatee) is a championship program, and they knew they were in a dogfight and they came out hungry. And that's what a champion does. ... You've got to give credit to Manatee and the way those kids played. They've got a heck of a team -- I've never seen a team like that."
The Hurricanes committed a crucial penalty themselves in the third quarter, when a personal foul negated Greg Reaves blocking a Palmetto punt and then recovering it in the end zone.
But Manatee made up for it, thanks in part to a defense that limited Hicks to minus-2 yards on six carries in the second half. Hicks finished with 140 yards, making him the first running back this year to rush for over 100 yards against the Canes.
"We just did a better job of tackling and plugging. We had some missed tackles on him, but he can make you miss," Kinnan said. "Palmetto, they played much better than they had played on the videos we had seen. They played like the team two years ago (that made the Class 5A state semifinals)."
Trevon Walters rushed for 159 yards for the Hurricanes, whose game next week in St. Petersburg is a battle between two teams with 1-0 records in a four-team district.
Palmetto resumes Class 7A-District 10 play Friday against Lakewood Ranch.
"We were hungry to win, and we fell short, so I don't know if you're happy about it," Marino said. "But we're going to come back from that -- I promise you."