Trayvon Pinder said he didn’t think he was going to run as far as he did.
“I thought I was going to get tackled after five yards,” the Manatee High running back/linebacker said.
Pinder started the run in a wildcat formation, chugging forward in the middle of his offensive line on a fourth-and-1 play.
Pinder broke through the line, bounced to his left, shook off an attempted tackle and scored a 59-yard touchdown.
The play was one of several key wildcat runs Pinder had in leading Manatee’s comeback win over Palmetto at Harllee Stadium.
The Hurricanes’ 38-33 victory clinched the Class 4S-District 13 championship.
“We had been talking about running it out in the field if it’s fourth and short,” Manatee head coach Jacquez Green said about the wildcat packages. “They were scared to tackle Trayvon the whole night. Every time he ran the football, they were coming off to the side, taking bad angles so they didn’t have to take him on. And Trayvon’s a tough back. He’s a guy that’s rushed for 1,000 yards back to back at Braden River, so we know what he’s capable of doing.”
Palmetto led 26-17 at halftime.
Manatee (7-2 overall, 2-0 district) shifted its defense to blitzing more frequently and forcing Palmetto quarterback Clayton Dees to roll from the pocket.
The move limited the Tigers in the second half.
“Dees is a Division I quarterback,” Green said. “You can’t sit back there and just let him take his time and make throws. Even the NFL quarterbacks can have a hard time making throws when you put pressure in their face.”
Manatee’s move to blitzing, while playing man coverage with the Hurricanes’ top cornerbacks matching up with Palmetto’s speedy wide receivers kept the Tigers from scoring in the second half until a touchdown with eight seconds remaining.
“They heated us up a little bit more in the second half,” Palmetto head coach Rashad West said. “They got to the quarterback and they did a good job. We thought we’d be ready for it. They did a good job and executed a little bit better than we did in the second half.”
In the first half, Palmetto (4-4 overall, 1-1 district) controlled the tempo. The Tigers struck on the opening possession when Dylan Wester tallied an 83-yard touchdown reception on a pass over the middle, where he slipped past one tackle attempt and outran Manatee’s defense to the end zone.
Key’vonn Reddick caught a 40-yard touchdown pass over the middle nearly eight minutes later to give Palmetto a 14-3 lead.
Pinder scored the first of his three touchdowns to begin the second quarter, but Palmetto quickly answered to stretch the lead to 20-10 through Jamari Parker’s 2-yard touchdown run.
However, Manatee’s special teams blocked the extra point attempt. The Canes added a second extra point block just before halftime.
They also benefited from a botched snap on Palmetto’s short field goal attempt. The three plays amounted to five points that Palmetto didn’t get.
Rok Lodge led Palmetto with eight catches for 132 yards.
“Rok is an explosive kid,” Green said. “He’s really small, quick kid. But the thing we did in the second half, we started bringing pressure and started putting Raheim (Sexil) on Rok and that slowed up the offense.”
Pinder led the Canes with 162 rushing yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns.
Those weren’t the only teams playing Friday.
Here’s a look at the Week 10 games with scores:
Braden River 35, Southeast 7
Lakewood Ranch 24, Bayshore 20
Port Charlotte 49, Parrish Community 10
Venice 43, IMG Academy White 0
Saint Stephen’s 56, Boca Raton Christian 13
Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy 18, Bradenton Christian 14 (Thursday)
Swipe below for scores involving Bradenton-area programs: