BRADENTON -- All this week, John Booth told his Manatee Hurricanes that in order to beat Naples, they had to do so in phases.
As in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams.
The players got the message, and Manatee's first-year head coach looked prophetic as the Canes got big plays from each unit in a 31-19 win over the Golden Eagles, who entered the game ranked fourth in Class 6A in The Associated Press prep football poll.
It was special teams that chipped in first, when Tarique Milton recovered Naples' onside kick and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown. That evened the score at 7 after Naples
needed less than three minutes to engineer a 65-yard scoring drive on the game's first series.
"We needed a big play, and Tarique did a great job," said Booth, whose team is 2-1. "He's only a sophomore. And to step in and make a big play like that is huge for us."
It was all offense in the first quarter, which ended with Manatee up 14-13. But the Hurricanes' defense made a plethora of big plays in the second half, which included defensive tackle Mahlik Mills stripping the ball from Naples quarterback Michael Walker on the Canes' 13-yard line with 6 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and Manatee ahead 24-19.
Defensive back Travon Rumph's pass breakup with 1:49 remaining forced a turnover on downs before George Woodie intercepted Walker at Manatee's 30 and returned to Naples' 20 during the game's final minute.
"I thought Coach (Jim) Phelan and his staff did a great job making adjustments in the second half," Booth said. "And the kids played well. And they shut it down and gave our offense a chance to move the ball, and I'm just proud of the way we finished."
Running back Johnnie Lang had another huge night, rushing for 191 yards and two touchdowns, including a 26-yarder with 1:41 remaining, while lining up mostly out of the wildcat formation.
"That was kind of our game plan this week -- to expand on what we did last week with him," Booth said, "and kind of use that from week to week."
Naples got a big night from Walker, who rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns and threw for another.
"I thought it was a good experience," Naples coach Bill Kramer said. "Playing in Bradenton and being on the road and playing one of the top teams in the state, it exposed us in some areas.
"You learn more from a loss than you do a win sometimes."
Manatee stays home next week against Sarasota.