Sarasota Riverview claimed its first win over Manatee in 11 years and made the Class 8A-District 6 very interesting with Friday night’s 42-33 victory at Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium.
The Rams never trailed against the Hurricanes, clinching the victory on sophomore running back Ali Boyce’s 3-yard touchdown run with 1:29 remaining. Senior linebacker A.J. Franco put an exclamation point on the contest by recovering Manatee’s third fumble of the game on the ensuing series.
In addition to recovering three fumbles, Riverview got 324 yards of total offense from senior quarterback Mike Welcer and 120 on the ground from Boyce. Welcer ran for three touchdowns, threw a pair of scoring passes and caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Andrew Van Ness on a trick play with 3:32 left in the second quarter.
Overcome by emotion, Welcer kneeled briefly around midfield at the conclusion of the game with tears of joy streaming down his face.
“I am speechless,” Welcer said. “I don’t even know what to say. We’re the first Riverview team in what, 12 years, to beat Manatee? I can’t even describe it. I don’t know what to do. I’m in total shock.”
While the two teams combined for 198 yards of penalties, Manatee’s 13 flags for 92 yards were more costly considering they came at inopportune times. The Hurricanes were called for offsides three times on Riverview’s first scoring drive, set up the Rams’ second touchdown with a pass interference penalty, and enabled Riverview to eat valuable time off the clock in the fourth quarter with another pass interference penalty.
“We turned the ball over and we missed too many tackles,” said Manatee head coach John Booth. “We didn’t block well on the perimeter. I thought Riverview did a great job being physical at the point of attack.”
Hurricanes senior quarterback A.J. Colagiovanni ran for the Hurricanes’ first touchdown from 25 yards out and threw for three scores, including a pair of touchdowns to Javarious Pollock. Of Colagiovanni’s 241 passing yards, 78 came on a touchdown pass to Tarique Milton with 8:23 left in the third quarter.
Josh Booker started the game at linebacker for Manatee, but he moved back to running back following an early injury to Keyon Fordham. Booker finished with 55 yards on 15 carries, including a 15-yard touchdown to pull the Hurricanes within two at 35-33 late in the third quarter.
Manatee dropped to 4-3 and 3-1 in the district standings with the loss, while Riverview improved to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in district play. Each team has two district games left, with Manatee traveling to Riverview (Hillsborough) and Tampa Newsome, respectively, the next two weeks.
“We’re in a dogfight now,” Booth said. “Our backs are against the wall. There are four (district) teams tied with one loss. We have to keep fighting.”
Who: Manatee at Riverview
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Riverview High