Malik Bell had the go-ahead touchdown and game-sealing interception in Palmetto’s 14-6 win against Coral Reef on Wednesday at Harris Field.
“He’s a very special player,” Panthers coach Mike Manasco said. “He’s a junior and everyone is going to know him by the end of the season. He’s the heart and soul of what we do here.”
Jawon Hamilton’s 5-yard run broke the Coral Reef’s 13-quarter scoring drought in the first quarter and the Barracudas (1-5, 0-2 District 16-8A) held a 6-0 halftime lead. But the Panthers (1-4, 1-1) used an Aaron Ancrum 67-yard fumble return in the third quarter and Bell’s 5-yard run with 4:10 remaining to gain the lead.
The Barracudas had been outscored 118-0 in three consecutive shutout losses before Wednesday. Hamilton singlehandedly carried the Barracudas back into the game with a 41-carry, 191-yard rushing effort. But Bell’s ball-hawking brilliance ended a long drive to seal the Panthers’ first district victory in four years.