BRADENTON -- Just when he appeared down and the play appeared dead, Trevon Walters, clutching hard to a shovel pass, somehow twisted his way out of the scrum that had formed near the line of scrimmage.
Then he darted toward the sideline and zipped away from a defender before another grabbed his jersey. As the home side of Hawkins Stadium grew louder with every step he took, Walters lunged and slid across the goal line for a touchdown.
If there was one moment that personified Manatee’s gritty 44-34 win over Miami Central on Friday, it was that: Walters, a junior running back, showing his resolve, just as the rest of the Hurricanes did in running their record to 3-0.
“We’re focused. Our coaches did a great job preparing the kids,” said Manatee coach Joe Kinnan, whose team entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today, MaxPreps and SI.com. “We went out and played hard.”
So did the Rockets (1-2), who began the year ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today before they fell to Grayson (Ga.) in Week 1 and defeated nationally ranked Booker T. Washington last week.
Down 23-7 at the half, Miami Central scored on its first two drives of the second half, trimming Manatee’s lead to two, and forced the Canes to punt from their own 19 with 5:11 remaining in the third quarter. But the Rockets were flagged for roughing the kicker, moving the ball to the 34 and giving Manatee a fresh set of downs.
Walters scored less than a minute later on the aforementioned shovel pass, which went for 54 yards.
“We’ve been working the whole time on keeping my balance, and they’ve been telling me about keeping my feet,” said Walters, who totaled 227 yards rushing and receiving and added a game-sealing, 85-yard touchdown run late in fourth quarter, “and it showed.
“This is exciting, man,” added Walters, who moved to the area from Alabama late in his freshman year.
• Homestead 29, Coral Reef 13: Homestead’s strong passing game helped get the Broncos past Coral Reef in front of a large crowd at Harris Field on Friday night.
Sophomore quarterback Maurice Alexander put up 242 passing yards and two touchdowns of 83 and 93 yards.
Sophomore running back Johnnie Hankins also had a good night, picking up 72 yards and a touchdown.
• Varela 40, Goleman 12: The Vipers (1-1) defeated the Gators (0-3) at Southridge Park.
Andy Fuentes ignited the Vipers in the second half with his 127 rushing yards (out of 151) and three touchdowns.
Tray Fance added 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Gators trailed 14-12 at the half after Mark Osorio’s 34 yard touchdown pass to O’Brian Anderson.
That was as close as the Gators got as the Vipers shut down the Gators and scored 28 unanswered points in the second half.
• Belen Jesuit 35, Gulliver Prep 33: Quarterback Ryan Murphy threw for 52 yards and scored two touchdowns — one rushing and one passing — to lead Belen Jesuit past rival and host Gulliver Prep for its first victory of the season.
• Reagan 41, Hialeah-Miami Lakes 14: Junior Keenan Springer had another solid game running the ball, and the Bison continued its best start in school history with the victory at Hialeah-Miami Lakes.
Reagan (3-0), which is playing independent football for the second consecutive season but will likely join a district next year, extended its winning streak to 10 games. The Bison won seven in a row to finish the 2011 season and finished 7-4, its best record in school history.
Springer scored three touchdowns and finished with 166 yards on 18 carries.
ANDRE C. FERNANDEZ
• American 30, Braddock 7: American (2-1) was able to establish a good variety of offensive plays, as it defeated Braddock at Milander Park.
The Patriots attack was led by quarterback Romy González, who threw for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
He also ran for another score.
• Mourning 36, Ferguson 7: Mourning quarterback Derron Holas’ combined 450 yards and four touchdowns powered his team to the victory over Ferguson (0-3) at North Miami. Mourning improved to 2-1.
Holas threw for 326 yards and ran for 124 yards on just seven carries.