BRADENTON -- If you wanted to know just how tight Manatee's game against was Friday with nationally-ranked Fort Lauderdale University School, you just had to look toward the bleachers in the fourth quarter.
They were full.
For a Hurricanes team that hadn't been challenged much this year, especially at home, this was a rare scene.
But no one was about to leave Hawkins Stadium on Friday, when Manatee rallied back from an early deficit to beat the Suns 28-24.
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Down 21-0 in the first quarter, Manatee (9-0) took the lead with about six minutes remaining and
turned away the Suns' powerful offense on its final drive.
"That says we can hang with the big boys - (the Suns) were ranked higher than us," said quarterback Josh Meyer, whose 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin McKnight was the eventual game-winner. "We came through and we showed who we are.
"It definitely showed that we can hang in there and just persevere and play."
The win did nothing for the Canes' state title hopes - they already clinched the Class 8A-District 7 title and host a first-round playoff game Nov. 15.
But it should pay off in polls by MaxPreps, Rivals and USA Today, all of whom ranked the Suns higher than Manatee entering Friday.
"We kept chipping away at it," said Manatee coach Joe Kinnan.
The Canes have won 26 consecutive regular-season games and will try to clinch its third perfect regular-season in four years next week when they host Palm Harbor University.