BRADENTON, Fla. –
A legendary coach with a gaggle of state championships and a national title on his resume, Greg Toal had seen this scenario before.
Two good teams. Two good defenses. Not many points.
Make the big play and you win. Make some key mistakes and you don’t.
On Friday night in Bradenton, Toal’s Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)
Ironmen made the big play. The Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.)
Hurricanes made the mistakes.
Consequently, Don Bosco Prep won 22-16 during the first game of the Manatee Memorial Hospital Suncoast Challenge at Hawkins Stadium. Bosco, the nation’s top-ranked team, has now won 37 straight games, though the latest link in the streak didn’t come easy.
“I’m just happy to get out of there with a win,” Toal said. “That’s a good, good football team. I certainly wasn’t surprised by the effort Manatee gave. Again, they’re very good. But we found a way to win.”
It happened when quarterback Mike Yankovich
found Leonte Carroo
striding in single coverage down the middle of the field. Yankovich hit Carroo on the run, and the receiver capped a 64-yard play by reaching the end zone and giving Bosco (2-0) a 15-10 lead with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter.
Four plays later, Manatee (1-2) made a crucial mistake when Nicolas Tankersley
lined up to punt deep in Canes’ territory. The snap sailed over his head and he fell on it at the 6. Jabrill Peppers
scored on the next play for scrimmage, widening Bosco’s lead to 22-10 with 5:09 left.
“We gave them the short field,” said Canes coach Joe Kinnan.
It wasn’t the first time. Up 7-6 early in the second half, Manatee gave the Ironmen the ball at its own 12 when Tankersley, attempting to punt, bobbled the snap. Aidan Murray's
37-yard field goal put Bosco up 9-7 with less than minutes left in the third.
Such gaffes overshadowed the Hurricanes’ defense, which limited Bosco to 238 total yards.
“We didn’t do enough offensively to help out our defense,” Kinnan said. “And the breakdowns in the punting game were just catastrophic.”
Bosco’s defense was even better, limiting Manatee to just 41 rushing yards on 38 attempts.
Peppers, one of the nation’s most talked-about sophomores, had a big night. He picked off Canes quarterback Cord Sandberg
in the first half and also rushed for a game-high 67 yards on 12 carries. He also scored the game’s first touchdown on a 31-yard run up the middle, a play set up when Elijah Shumate's
6-yard run on a fake punt helped Bosco convert a fourth-and-5 from the Manatee 37.
“We made the big play,” Toal said, “and they made a couple of mistakes.”
Manatee’s Anthony Lauro
had 10 catches for 86 yards, and scored Manatee’s first touchdown on an 8-yard reverse in the second quarter. Sandberg threw for 165 yards, and his 5-yard touchdown pass to Austin Gordon
brought Manatee to within 22-16 with 1:14 remaining before Bosco recovered the onside kick.
“We were fortunate,” Toal said, “but we played hard and overcame adversity.”Plant edges Bergen Catholic (Continue reading)