The hands team lined up for a chance to save Manatee’s season.
The kick bounced off the turf at Joe Kinnan Field and turned toward to the sky when Farrakhan Shannon leaped into the air to snag the ball.
Hawkins Stadium erupted.
The Hurricanes were getting the football back with roughly a minute to play with a chance to score a game-winning touchdown.
Then the signal came from the officials and the message that it was Sarasota Riverview’s ball.
“They said somebody touched it before it went 10 yards,” Manatee head coach Jacquez Green said.
The Rams picked up a first down after three running plays to seal a 35-30 victory in the Class 4S-Region 4 semifinals.
It was the second time Riverview edged Manatee this season. But Friday’s triumph was an emotionally charged one for the Rams’ coaching staff.
Most of the staff played for legendary head coach John Sprague, who reportedly died earlier Friday. The Hurricanes honored Sprague with a moment of silence before the game.
“It’s a very emotional victory,” Riverview head coach Josh Smithers said. “It’s kind of ironic on the day he passes, we beat Manatee in the playoffs. It’s pretty special. We talked to our kids about how important this game was and then just the battles Coach Sprague had. There were years they had an incredible team and lose one game to Manatee and then Manatee wins a state title.”
The Rams face top-seeded Venice in the region final. Venice beat Immokalee 56-14 in Friday’s other 4S-4 region semifinal.
Manatee finished with a 9-3 record, including the playoffs.
The Canes and Riverview went back and forth during the first half of Friday’s tilt, before Manatee kicker Joey Colonneso’s 37-yard field goal gave Manatee a 24-21 lead at the break.
Prior to that, Trayvon Pinder scored on a 6-yard run, Kei’Shawn Smith had an 18-yard touchdown run and Bon Bean Jr. caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Heidel.
But in the second half, Manatee’s offense stalled on four consecutive possessions, which included two drives ending in turnover on downs.
Riverview went ahead 28-24 during that spell.
“I thought we were going to need a touchdown to win the game,” Green said.
Riverview stretched the lead to 35-24 with Braxton Thomas’ quarterback sneak for a touchdown with 3 minutes, 11 second remaining.
Manatee had a kick return to midfield, which resulted in a six-play drive to pay dirt with 1 minute, 15 seconds left to play. From there, the onside kick that was recovered was ruled to be illegally touched before Shannon secured it.
The Rams iced it just a few plays later.
Here’s a look at Friday’s game:
Sarasota Riverview 35, Manatee 30
Swipe below for scores involving Bradenton-area programs: