The Manchester Greyhounds dropped their sixth straight game, this time at the hands of the Fayetteville Rockets in a home contest on Oct. 9.
The game was never more than a score of two away, but Fayetteville hung tough to come out with a 44-30 victory to improve to 4-2 on the season.
Manchester kicked off the evening with a strong defensive stand, forcing the Rockets into a turnover on fourth down when Fayetteville senior Cole Schaefer couldn’t connect with junior Tyler Kingus.
The Greyhounds took over on their own 36-yard-line and senior quarterback Jordan Freeman took the first play himself but lost the ball. Fayetteville senior Eli Wolfer pounced on the loose ball giving the ball back to the visitors.
The Rockets took over on the Manchester 47 and drove right down the field. After four plays the Rockets drove 46 yards and on the fifth play Schaefer punched it in himself from one yard away for the score. A penalty on the point after pushed the Rockets back and on the retry the Greyhounds blocked the PAT and Fayetteville led 6-0 less than four minutes into the game.
After a Greyhound drive went three-and-out, Fayetteville took over again in great field position at the Manchester 48. On the third play of the drive, Manchester junior Bryan Young picked off Schaefer on a slant route and took it back for a Manchester touchdown. A missed two-point conversion kept things at 6-6 with 4:36 in the first quarter.
Special teams let Manchester down after the touchdown when Fayetteville returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Manchester 15 yard line. On third down, senior Caleb Dowers ripped off a nice gain to get the Rockets down to the three-yard line and Schaefer took it in for the score on the next play. Fayetteville led 12-6 after a missed two-point conversion.
Manchester started their next drive on their own 36 and went looking for an answer. A long run by Freeman aided by a late hit after the run by the Rockets moved the ball to the Fayetteville 26 and a few plays later Young broke off a run up the middle for a touchdown to tie the game up. A pass from Freeman to senior Sean Frost on the two-point conversion gave the Greyhounds a 14-12 lead just before the first quarter ended.
A lengthy drive that ate up nearly half of the second quarter ended in a Fayetteville touchdown when junior Chase Jester scored to regain the lead for the Rockets. A two-point conversion gave the Rockets a 20-14 lead with 7:48 to go in the first half.
The two teams traded the ball back and forth after two Manchester punts and a combined two turnovers from the squads, the teams went into the locker rooms for the halftime intermission.
Manchester had the first possession of the second half and still had trouble getting things moving when their drive sputtered out on their own 47-yard-line. Solid coverage and a healthy kick pinned Fayetteville back to their own seven and a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by Freeman put Manchester back on top at 22-20 with 8:24 to go in the third.
Manchester got sneaky and recovered an onside kick at the Fayetteville 47 on the ensuing kickoff. A three-and-out was as far as the drive would get though and the Greyhounds were forced to punt again.
Fayetteville found themselves pinned back again, this time on their own eight but advanced the ball all the way to the Manchester 48 in just three plays, all rushes. And it was on the eighth play of the drive that senior Timmy Crone broke a long run and multiple tackles on his path to the end zone to regain the lead for the Rockets which now stood at 28-22 with 3:48 in the third.
Disaster looked to strike Manchester on their first play of the next drive when Freeman was intercepted by Crone who took it back for a touchdown, but three fouls on the play negated the outcome and the down was replayed. Lightning struck twice for Fayetteville however when Freeman tried to lateral the ball to a teammate on the next play but the ball never found its target and Crone ran it back again, and this time it counted. A successful two-point conversion had the Rockets rolling late in the third quarter with a 36-22 lead.
After a Manchester punt, the Greyhound defense stepped up and forced a Rocket turnover in the red zone on Fayetteville’s next drive and the MHS offense responded driving 82 yards for a touchdown, capped off by a one-yard rush by Freeman to bring the Greyhounds to within a score at 36-30 with 6:30 to play.
Unfortunately for the Greyhounds, that’s as close as they’d get as Fayetteville calmly and effectively moved down the field in five plays for the touchdown that put the game to bed. Crone scored from 38 yards out and the Rockets held a 14-point lead with 4:02 to play and a turnover on the next Manchester possession sealed the win for green and white.
The win unofficially moves Fayetteville into 12th place in the region 22 standings, still alive for a postseason appearance if they can rise up to one of the top-eight positions. While with the loss, the Greyhounds unofficially fell to 24th out of 29 teams in region 26, with a postseason appearance seemingly highly unlikely at this point.
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.