The losing skid hit seven last Friday night for the Manchester Greyhound football squad as they played host to the Bradford Railroaders, and the visitors left the river town with a 36-20 victory over the Hounds. It was the seventh defeat in a row for Coach Dustin Cook and his troops, who forged a 14-14 tie at halftime, but saw the Railroaders run off 22 consecutive second half points to claim the win.
“We just weren’t able to make enough plays in the second half,”said Coach Cook. “Bradford did a great job of executing, which allowed them to make the big plays.”
It was Homecoming on a chilly night at Greyhound Stadium and it was the home standing Hounds who struck first, reaching into their bag of tricks on the game’s first offensive play for a double reverse pass from receiver Sean Frost to quarterback Jordan Freeman that gained 20 yards. That drive ended with the same two hooking up, but this time it was Freeman throwing the pass and Frost hauling it in from 28 yards out to give Manchester the early 6-0 advantage.
“Jordan and Sean have done a great job for us all year,” said Coach Cook. “It is a credit to how hard they work all week in practice.”
The good fortune continued for the Hounds on Bradford’s first drive as Frost made another big play, this time on defense, intercepting a Railroader pass on a fourth and 10 play and then switching back to offense, making an acrobatic, diving catch of a Freeman pass for a gain of 26. Unfortunately, after a promising start,the Greyhound drive ended after seven plays with a turnover on downs.
The Railroaders took over on their own 25 and put together an nine-play drive that culminated with quarterback Andrew Branson taking it across from 1o yards out to get the visitors on the board with 30 seconds left in the first quarter. The two-point try failed to leave the score all even at 6 apiece.
Bradford pulled something from their bag of tricks on the ensuing kickoff, recovering an onside kick at the Manchester 38. Four plays later, the Railroaders had the lead as Tyler Gunter scored on a three-yard run. Gunter also ran in the two-point try, putting the visitors up 14-6 early in the second period.
Remarkably, the Railroaders recovered another onside kick after that go-ahead score, but gave it right back when a fumble was recovered by Manchester’s Jared Stricklett. The Hounds went three-and-out, punted, and then it was Frost coming up big again on defense, picking off his second pass of the game and as he was being tackled, alertly lateraled to teammate Daniel Hernandez, who ran it back into Bradford territory at the Railroader 49.
The Hounds took advantage of the turnover, going 49 yards in 11 plays with Bryan Young sneaking into the corner of the end zone from four yards out for the touchdown. Young also ran for the two-point conversion, tying the game at 14.
The momentum continued for the home team on the next Bradford possession as defensive back Austin Redmon intercepted a pass, the fourth Railroader turnover of the first half. Time ran out on the Manchester offense and the two teams went to the half dead even at 14.
The Homecoming ceremonies took place at halftime and perhaps the long break took away some of the Manchester momentum as it was the Railroaders who came out and made the first statement of the second half, taking the opening kickoff and pounding away for 63 yards in nine plays, finishing with a 14-yard scoring run by Mason Justice. The conversion failed again, but Bradford now had a 20-14 lead and they would never trail again.
After the Hounds ran eight plays and moved to the Bradford 15, they turned it over on downs and the Railroader offense went right back on the tracks again, 85 yards in eight plays, all on the ground. The final play of the drive was a 15-yard touchdown run by Gunter, who again added the two-point run and just one play into the final quarter, the visitors had pulled ahead 28-14.
The Greyhounds turned the ball over on their next possession, with Freeman throwing an interception, being hit as he threw. That pick by Bradford’s Adam Rostkowski set up another scoring drive as four plays later, Bryson Cana went in from seven yards out and when Branson took in the two-point try, the Railroaders were ready to head for the station, firmly in control with a 36-14 lead.
The Greyhounds did respond, however, going 65 yards in three plays, 61 of those coming on receptions by Frost. The final four yards and the score came when a Freeman pass was deflected by a Bradford defender and ricocheted right into the hands of Bryan Young in the end zone. The two-point attempt was no good and with 6:59 to play, the home team had narrowed the gap to 36-20.
The Hounds were to get no closer as their defense forced a punt, but the offense coughed it up, fumbling it back to Bradford and the Railroaders ran out the clock, making their two and a half hour trip to Manchester a worthwhile one, winning by that count of 36-20.
The win evened the Railroaders at 4-4 on the season with the Hounds dropping to 1-7 in a disappointing campaign.
Manchester will be back in action on Saturday night, looking to break their losing streak against a tough Ohio Valley Athletic Conference foe in Miami Valley Christian. The site of the game had not been determined at press time.
“Our main focus now is to continue to improve in the areas that we are struggling with and to play our best football going forward,” added Coach Cook. “MVCA is always ready to go week in and week out so we know this week is going to be a strong test for us.”
“We have to show up ready to play to give ourselves a chance a winning.”
BRADFORD 6 8 6 16 —36
MANCHESTER 6 8 0 6 —20
MHS- Frost 28 yd. pass from Freeman (conversion failed)
BHS- Branson 11 yd. run (conversion failed)
BHS- Gunter 3 yd. run (Gunter conversion run)
MHS- Young 4 yd. run (Young conversion run)
BHS- Justice 14 yd. run (conversion failed)
BHS- Gunter 15 yd. run (Gunter conversion run)
BHS- Canan 7 yd. run (Branson conversion run)
MHS- Young 4 yd. pass from Freeman (conversion failed)