ST PETERSBURG - Bradenton Southeast used its opportunistic defense and deceptively-strong running of tailback Adrian Jenkins to beat Lakewood 28-14, avoiding what would have been a huge upset.
The Seminoles (6-0) understandably underestimated the Spartans. Lakewood (1-5) had just recently broken its 14-game losing streak and was a huge underdog.
"We thought maybe they would come out flat playing a 1-4 team," Lakewood coach Brian Bruch said of his team's first half efforts. "They got a state record and we were ready for them."
Early on, Lakewood (1-5) did what it could in an attempt to provide its homecoming crowd with something to cheer about.
The Spartans showed resolve after allowing Southeast quarterback Marquel Neasman to hit Faron Hornes with a 77-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, senior Louis Murphy evened the score with an 85-yard return. Murphy broke through an arm tackle at midfield and outran the rest of Southeast's coverage squad.
Dominique People gave Lakewood its second special teams touchdown when he returned the punt he blocked 19 yards with 7:48 left in the half.
After a sluggish first half in which Southeast turned the ball over twice, the Seminoles scored 21 straight points in the second half, while continuing to keep the Spartans out of the end zone.
Jenkins, who sat out the first quarter because of disciplinary reasons, ran for two scores.
The 170-pound junior looks small, but benches more than 100 pounds over his weight. He used that strength to break through a gang tackle at the 6-yard line and power into the end zone on a 14-yard run. He finished with 107 yards on 20 carries.
'Canes prevail late
PALM HARBOR - Nigel Burkes busted through the Gibbs' defensive front and raced 30 yards for the winning touchdown with 4:09 left to lift Palm Harbor U. to a 28-21 win in its Homecoming.
Burkes finished with 146 rushing yards on 25 attempts to lead PHU, which improved to 2-4. Gibbs is also 2-4.
Like so many plays in this game, Burkes' TD run was controversial. The junior tailback, carrying for the fourth straight time in the 54-yard drive, fumbled as he was crossing the goal line. But officials ruled it a TD.