Mother Nature wasn’t kind and the host Bethel-Tate Tigers weren’t kind to the Manchester Greyhounds last Friday night as a wet, cold,and all around miserable Homecoming Night turned out well for the home team as they handed the visiting Hounds a 49-14 defeat.
The loss was the fifth in a row for the struggling Greyhounds and dropped them to 1-5 on the season and it was also their fourth consecutive road trip. Again, it was the strong ground game of the opponent that helped to spell doom for the Manchester squad as the Tigers rolled to 49 first half points, many of those on long runs from scrimmage through big gaps in the Greyhound defense.
Bethel scored on all seven of its first half possessions and that began on the game’s opening possession. The Tigers took over after the opening kickoff at their own 41 and four running plays later, Owen Holtke took it to the end zone from 30 yards out and the extra point kick by Austin Carter was good to put Bethel up 7-0.
That lead quickly increased when the Tiger defense forced a Manchester punt on the first Greyhound possession and Jeffrey Botts scooped the kick off the wet grass and rambled 70 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was missed but just five minutes into the game, Bethel was already up 13-0.
Things got worse for the Hounds on their next possession when quarterback Jordan Freeman’s pass was picked off by Bethel’s Cooper Dunn who returned it to the Manchester 23. Moments later, an eight-yard touchdown run by Steven Cooper, the first of his three scores, gave the home team a 19-0 advantage as the rains poured and the wind picked up.
Freeman was injured on the next Manchester possession and was replaced behind center by Sean Frost, seeing his first-ever action as a varsity quarterback. Frost’s first series ended in a punt and again the Tigers capitalized, when Cooper took a hand off, broke through the line, outran a defender, broke one last tackle, and went 70 yards to pay dirt. The two-point conversion was good and at the end of the first quarter, Bethel held a commanding 27-0 lead.
The second period began with the rain and wind intensifying and the Tigers starting a drive at the Manchester 28 after recovering a Greyhound fumble. That drive resulted in another Cooper touchdown run, this time from 26 yards out and the home team went up 33-0.
After a failed onside kick by the Tigers, the Hounds got good field position at their own 49 and Frost lead an eight-play drive that ended with Bryan Young slicing off tackle from 14 yards away to get Manchester on the board. Young also ran in the two-point try to make it 33-8 with 7:37 left in the first half.
It did not take long for the home team to respond, one play exactly. On their first play of their next possession, the Tigers ran a nice ball fake, counter play to the left which resulted in Austin Carter running 45 yards untouched to the end zone. The two-point conversion was good and Bethel led 41-8.
Right back came the Hounds with a nice 66-yard drive that included a big 26-yard scamper on third down by Young that kept the drive alive. Young also converted a fourth and one run and eventually scored on an eight-yard run. The two-point try failed, leaving the Hounds still staring at a 41-14 deficit, a deficit which quickly grew again when the Tigers again scored on their very first play, this time a jet formation run down the sideline for 60 yards by Justin Hixson and with the two-point conversion, the two squads went to the intermission with the home side comfortably in front 49-14.
With a difference of over 30 points, the OHSAA running clock rule went into effect as the third quarter began and that period rolled by rather quickly with neither team putting points on the board.
The fourth quarter was populated by numerous back-ups in the game for both sides as they traded punts before the Hounds’ Austin Gregory recovered a Bethel fumble with 5:38 to play. The Manchester offense went nowhere and their punt pinned the Tigers back at their own 4-yard line. On their first play, Bethel fumbled again, recovered by Manchester’s Marcus Neeley, setting up the Hounds with a first and goal as the clock wound down. In four running plays, the Hounds could not find the end zone and the game ended with the Tiger claiming their third win of the season by the final count of 49-14.
In the win, the Tigers racked up 339 yards rushing, as the defensive struggles against the run continued for the Greyhounds.
“One of the big things we have struggles with this season is being able to get off the field on defense,” said Manchester head coach Dustin Cook. “I thought that we put ourselves in some successful situations on Friday night, but we were unable to make a play to get the stops that we needed.”
The Manchester game plan on offense was hindered again by a second quarter injury to quarterback Jordan Freeman, with Sean Frost coming on to take over the duties for the first time in his career.
“From an offensive standpoint, I thought we were able to do some positive things, even with the injury to Jordan,” said Coach Cook. “Frost came in and did a nice job of running the offense and Bryan Young was able to have a good game for us.”
“Moving forward we are focused on becoming the best football team that we can. I fell that we still have not reached our full potential in all three phases of the game. We are going to try and continue and improve in all areas of the game so we can be playing our best football for the last four weeks of the season.”
The Tigers improved to 3-2 on the year with the win, while the loss, the fifth in succession, dropped the Greyhounds to 1-5 on the year. Manchester will finally return to their home field on Friday night when they play host to the Fayetteville Rockets in an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference contest.
MANCHESTER 0 14 0 0 —14
BETHEL 27 22 0 0 —49
BT- Holtke 3-yd. run (Carter kick)
BT- Botts 70-yd punt return (kick failed)
BT- Cooper 8-yd. run (kick failed)
BT- Cooper 70-yd. run (Conversion good)
BT- Cooper 26-yd. run (conversion failed)
MHS- Young 14-yd. run (Young run)
BT- Carter 45-yd. run (conversion good)
MHS- Young 8 yd. run (conversion failed)
BT- Hixson 60-yd. run (conversion good)