Bobcats use big second half to pull away for 50-22 victory –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
A hot and humid Friday night followed the Manchester Greyhound varsity football team as they boarded the bus and made the trek to Franklin Furnace for their 2016 season opener, facing off with the Green Bobcats, a team that the Hounds handled quite easily in the past two season openers. Last Friday night was a different story, however, as the Bobcats got their revenge in a big way, dominating the line of scrimmage on their way to over 500 yards rushing, and with the aid of a 30-6 second half, a 50-22 win over the visiting Greyhounds.
There was no frozen tundra to be found as the two teams kicked off on Friday night, as the Hounds won the toss and quickly went three and out and were forced to punt. Green took over on their own 45 and two plays later, had their first score of the 2016 season, as halfback Alec Smith took a handoff, broke through the line, then streaked down the sideline for a 53-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game. Running back Tyler Darnell began a big night for himself by running in the two-point conversion and the Cats were quickly up 8-0.
After a nice kickoff return from Avery Reed that took them to their own 48, again the Hounds were forced to punt after three plays, giving Green the ball back at the Bobcat 29. A 24-yard run by Darnell began the drive and despite a holding penalty on a third-and-five play, the home team made that up with a pass from quarterback Alex Hughes to halfback Tayte Carver, then found the end zone again when Darnell scored the first of his four TD’s in the game, going 24 yards around left end to paydirt. The two-point try failed but the Bobcats led 14-0, which is how the first quarter ended.
Nothing had gone right in the first period for the Hounds until they caught a break late when a Green fumble was recovered by Manchester’s Jacob Calvert. That led to early in the second quarter, when a busted play became the first Greyhound touchdown of the season. On third-and-five from the Green 37, quarterback Nick Woolard fumbled the snap, picked it up, and took off around the left side all the way to the end zone for six. James Arias ran in the two-point conversion and the Hounds had pulled within 14-8.
The Manchester defense finally got a stop and forced a Bobcat punt, taking possession at their own 18. Four plays later, the Hounds were in the lead. Woolard dropped back to pass and found Arias in the flat, and the junior running back did the rest, going 76 yards for the touchdown. When Patrick Baldwin took across the two-point try, the visitors had suddenly jumped in front 16-14 and had the momentum.
That momentum went right back to Green as the Bobcats took eight plays to travel 53 yards, going back in front when quarterback Hughes took off around right end and looked to be tackled, but at the last moment he lateraled the ball to Darnell who took it in from five yards out to put Green up 20-14 with 2:09 left in the first half.
The Hounds had one last shot to grab the lead back before the half and drove the ball into Green territory, with 38 of those yards coming on a long pass from Woolard to wide receiver Brandon Baldwin. As the clock was running out, the Hounds had the ball at the Bobcat 12, but Arias was stopped on a second down run as time expired with Green up 20-14 at the break.
The second half began well for the Hounds as an onside kick by Brennen Boyd was recovered by Manchester’s Luke Thompson at the Green 47, but the Hounds couldn’t move and turned the ball over on downs and from that point on, it was all downhill for the blue and gold.
On their second play from scrimmage, Darnell went untouched from 53 yards out for the score that put Green up 26-16 and after a Manchester punt, the Bobcats went on a six-play, 65 yard scoring drive, capped by another long Darnell TD run, this one 42 yards, as the Green offensive line began to take control and open some gaping holes and Bobcat runners found plenty of running room outside the hash marks. A two-point conversion run by Tyler McClain put the home team up 34-16, but they were far from finished on the scoreboard.
On the fourth play of the final quarter, the Bobcats found the end zone again, this time on a 17-yard scamper by Smith, his second touchdown of the night. A two-point run by Carver made it 42-16 and things went from bad to worse for the Hounds on their next possession.
After losing three yards on three plays, the Hounds were forced to punt and a bad snap eluded the punter Boyd and was covered by McClain, who pulled the ball into the end zone for the score. A Darnell two-point run put Green up 50-16.
The Hounds did bounce back and it took them just one play as Patrick Baldwin took a handoff and went 74 yards to the end zone. The two-point run was stopped and the game would later end with Green having a successful week one, defending their home field with a 50-22 triumph.
“I thought our kids played extremely hard and settled in in the first half and gave ourselves a chance going into halftime,” said Manchester head coach Dustin Cook. “Unfortunately we were not able to make plays and execute the way we wanted to in the second half. With that being said, I think there are a lot of positives that we can take with a young and inexperienced group that we can build on and become a better football team.”
The final stat sheet was dominated by the Green rushing attack, with Darnell leading the way with 229 yards on 18 carries and four touchdowns. Quarterback Hughes carried the ball nine times for 89 yards, with McClain adding 59 yards on the ground and Carver chipping in 56. Hughes only had to throw the ball six time, completing two, both to Carver for 29 yards.
Manchester was paced by Patrick Baldwin’s 94 yards rushing on 10 carries, with Woolard keeping the rock eight times for 49 yards and Arias getting 10 carries and totaling 20 yards. Woolard was 3 for 13 in the air for 119 yards, with Brandon Baldwin hauling in two of those completions.
Putting the week one loss behind them, the Hounds now prepare for another tough task in week two as they will be on the road again to historic Spartan Stadium in Portsmouth to battle the Notre Dame Titans. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“Next week doesn’t get any easier as we face Notre Dame, who returns most of their starters from last year’s team,” said Cook. “We will have a great week of practice and prepare to go and compete in Portsmouth on Friday night.
MHS 0 16 0 6 –22
GHS 14 6 14 16 –50
GHS- A. Smith 53 yd. Run (Darnell conversion)
GHS- Darnell 24 yd. Run (conversion failed)
MHS- Woolard 37 yd. Run (Arias conversion)
MHS- Arias 76 yd. Pass from Woolard (P. Baldwin conversion)
GHS- Darnell 5 yd. Run (conversion failed)
GHS- Darnell 53 yd. Run (conversion failed)
GHS- Darnell 42 yd. Run (McClain conversion)
GHS- A. Smith 17 yd. Run (Carver conversion)
GHS- McClain fumble recovery in end zone (Darnell conversion)
MHS- P. Baldwin 74 yd. Run (conversion failed)