BRADENTON -- After playing the best game of his young life, Jumar Gaskin smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know," said Manatee's senior linebacker. "The light clicked."
Gaskin may have had a hard time finding the words to sum up his performance, but he had no trouble finding the ball in Manatee's madcap 52-31 win over St. Petersburg in a Class 8A-District 7 game.
On a night where the Canes trailed by 15 points late in the second half and allowed 465 yards of offense, Gaskin provided a spark the size of Hawkins Stadium, which rocked with enthusiasm as Manatee erased an 18-3 deficit to run their record to 2-0 in the district and 7-1 overall.
First he blocked a first-quarter field-goal attempt. Then he scooped a blocked punt and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown to give the Hurricanes a 23-18 lead with nine minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
Finally, he put an end to the pesky Green Devils by recovering a fumble and returning it 50 yards for a touchdown with under 40 seconds remaining.
"I never had a game like this. This is why I work so hard in practice," Gaskin said.
Manatee's comeback wasn't the work of just one man, however. Sloan Drummonds hit Kelvin McKnight for a 5-yard score just before halftime to trim Manatee's deficit to 18-9.
Kavious Price returned the second-half kickoff 60 yards to St. Pete's 25. Isiah Goldy ran in a touchdown on the next play.
That's when Manatee went to its closer -- running back Johnnie Lang. Limited to 35 yards on 10 carries during the first half, Lang finished with 196 yards and three touchdowns.
"We were able to stretch them out a little bit so we could get some run lanes with Johnnie," said coach John Booth. "He finished out, ran very tough, particularly in that goal line area, where we need him the most. He came through clutch for us."
McKnight had seven catches for 55 yards and Drummonds threw for 102 yards for Manatee.
Despite the win, the district is still wide open after Palm Harbor University defeated Riverview. Manatee clinches the district with a win at Palm Harbor on Oct. 31, while if St. Petersburg beats Riverview and Manatee loses, the three meet for a tiebreaker Nov. 3.
The Canes are off next week.
"It's going to be good for us. We've been going 11, 12 weeks straight now," Booth said. "Guys are sore and nicked up, and it's going to be nice to kind of freshen up as we go into our last district game."