Manatee scores 30 unanswered points to down Woodland Hills
Written by: Josh Funk on Sunday, September 5th, 2010
TURTLE CREEK, Pa. – Even without its star athlete Lafayette Pitts, Woodland Hills had the Manatee Hurricanes right where they wanted them.
Trailing 10-9 in the third quarter, the powerful and quick Hurricanes had just missed a 51-yard field goal, and the turquoise and black had regained possession and seemingly had all the momentum.
That momentum lasted a mere 49 seconds. Then, the wheels fell off Woodland Hills’ wagon.
The Hurrincanes (1-0), one of the nation’s top-10 football teams, got a 300-yard passing performance from sophomore quarterback Cord Sandberg and scored 30 unanswered points to crush upset-minded Woodland Hills (0-1) 39-16 in the nightcap of the “Rally at the Wolvarena.”
Like it did to Tampa Plant last weekend, Manatee appeared ready to blow Woodland Hills right out of the water on its opening possession, as the Hurricanes quickly moved into the red zone, but human-highlight-reel running back Mike Blakely fumbled in the red zone and Woodland Hills recovered.
That led to a first half that was mostly a defensive quagmire and saw Manatee holding a 9-3 lead at intermission. The big strikes of the first half came on a 30-yard run on a faked punt by WH’s Lafayette Pitts and a 54-yard touchdown pass from Sandberg to sophomore Anthony Lauro.
Each team also scored a field goal in the first half– WH a 28-yarder and Manatee a 37-yarder. The Wolverines missed a chance to take a 3-0 lead with a 37-yard field goal after Lafayette Pitts’ faked punt play.
But #23 left the game for Woodland Hills with 2:21 left in the second quarter with what George Novak described as a knee bruise. Pitts was on crutches and in street clothes for the second half. He finished with 14 carries for 59 yards.
“If their running back didn’t get hurt, this game would have been a whole lot closer,” said Manatee head coach Joe Kinnan. “They played downhill exceedingly well. Woodland Hills is a heck of a football team.”
Woodland Hills still gave its best shot as quarterback Javonte Pitts (4-of-15, 117 yards, TD) hooked up with Devon White for a 54-yard touchdown and a 10-9 lead in the third quarter.
But Woodland Hills then threw consecutive interceptions, lost a fumble and had another possession end in a safety.
“We gave them a battle for a while,” Novak said. “But we had three turnovers and they capitalized off of them.”
Sandberg finished the first half with 120 passing yards, but he exploded in the second half – connecting on touchdown passes of 52, 7, and 59 yards to Quenton Bundrage. Those three catches were #11’s only receptions of the night, but they were huge.
Sandberg finished 15-of-22 for 329 yards and four touchdowns. Passing is Sandberg’s forte – he threw five touchdown passes in Manatee’s spring game and two more in a preseason game last week.
“They came off the edge like a bat out of you-know-where,” Sandberg said of Woodland Hills’ defense. “They dared us to throw the ball.”
Manatee’s ground attack finished with just 66 yards on 21 carries – Mike Blakely, who lit up Plant for more than 150 yards and three touchdowns – finished with 83 yards on 12 carries, including a nine-yard touchdown run.
Woodland Hills’ fullback Alfonso Strozier finished with a team-best 79 yards on nine carries. Junior Shakim Alonzo caught four passes for 73 yards and a touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter.
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