Late TD gives CCPA an 18-12 win on the road –
By Mark Carpenter –
After two lopsided losses to begin their 2016 season, the Manchester Greyhounds were back home last Friday night for their home opener, entertaining the Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy Lions. Not only were the Greyhounds searching for their first win, but they were looking to make a successful debut in their newly remodeled and renovated Greyhound Stadium.
All those fans in attendance on Friday night, 99.9% of whom were rooting for the home team, definitely got their money’s worth. After a first half of football that might only be described as agonizing to watch, the second half turned out to be just the opposite, going all the way down to the final play before the Lions barely held on for an 18-12 victory.
The loss on Friday night may have been just as heart-wrenching as last year’s loss to Notre Dame, after the Hounds twice battled back in the second half to tie the game, only to see the Lions score the winning touchdown with just 33 seconds left and then the Hounds end the game on the CCPA five-yard line.
The first quarter saw the teams combine for six offensive possessions, three punts and three times the ball was turned over on downs, a quarter of offensive futility or defensive excellence, take your pick. The longest Manchester play was an 11-yard run by quarterback Nick Woolard, and a Greyhound defense that had not played well at all the first two weeks held the Lions to a pair of turnovers on downs and a punt.
Early in the second period, the game saw its first turnover as a Woolard fumble was covered by CCPA, but the Manchester defense held, with the help of a Shaun Gould quarterback sack on a third down play, which forced a Lion punt. The Hounds turned it over again on their ensuing possession when a Woolard pass was picked off by CCPA’s Mylan Hall. With the Hounds’ Gavin Baldwin coming up with another big third down sack, the Lions were forced to punt and the Hounds got the ball at their own 28.
On a second and eight play, points finally went up on the scoreboard, but not on the home side. With some miscommunication between Woolard and his receiver, Hall got his second interception in as many possessions and this time he made it count, running it back 40 yards for the score that put CCPA on the board first. The two-point conversion try was stopped and the Lions led 6-0.
On their next possession, the Hounds turned it over for the fourth time in the half when a low snap resulted in another fumble recovered by the Lions, but they gave it right back on their first play from scrimmage, when Hall’s long pass was picked off on a nice one-handed grab by the Hounds’ Denny Polly. The Greyhounds could do nothing on offense and the first half came to an end with CCPA clinging to the 6-0 advantage.
Neither team scored in the third period, though both had long drives that ended in punts. The Hounds got another takeaway when a CCPA fumble was recovered by Jase Thatcher and moving into the fourth quarter, the Hounds completed a eight play, 82-yard drive when Woolard found Marcus Neeley in traffic in the end zone from five yards out. Neeley went up and snatched the ball out of the air for the score that tied the game at 6 when the two-point try failed.
Another break went the way of the Hounds on the next CCPA possession when after a another Gould sack put the Lions in third and long, another Hall pass was picked off, this time by Avery Reed and again the home team capitalized when Woolard found Gould right down the seam on a third and nine snap for a 45-yard touchdown and a Greyhound lead that stood at 12-6 when the two-point attempt again failed.
That lead lasted a whole of about 23 seconds. After a penalty on the kickoff pinned the Lions back at their own 15, their first play from scrimmage turned out to be an 85-yard touchdown run by Salih Williams that tied the score at 12 when again, a two-point conversion was stuffed.
It went from bad to worse for the Hounds when a Woolard fumble was recovered by the Lions at the Manchester 49, but a sack on a third-and-13 play by Neeley forced CCPA to punt, giving the Hounds another chance as the fourth quarter clock continued to win down and spectators began to sense a possible overtime game. The Greyhound offense did nothing with their opportunity and punter Trent Dryden’s kick was returned all the way to the Manchester 23 yard line by the Lions’ Jaylin Anderson, setting the visitors up in great field position with 1:20 to play.
The first play from scrimmage resulted in a Williams TD run, but it was nullified by an illegal block in the back and the next play saw Neeley get his second quarterback sack of the period. Facing a second-and-a6, the Lions again gave the ball to Williams and the senior running back made it count, going 29 yards for the score with 33 seconds left to play. Another two-point try was stopped and the Lions led 18-12 with the Hounds needing a miracle.
That miracle almost happened. Taking over at their own 38, Wollard dropped back and heaved a long pass in the direction of receiver Nick Huron, who was blanketed by CCPA defenders, but somehow after a deflection, the ball ended up in Huron’s hands for a 32-yard gain. Tack on a personal foul call on the Lions and the Hounds were in business at the CCPA 15-yard line.
Looking for the tying score and out of timeouts, Woolard threw three incomplete passes to the end zone, but a pass interference call on the third moved the ball to the 8, where the Hounds misfired again into the end zone, with enough time on the clock for one more play. Again, Woolard dropped back to throw and was chased out of the pocket and sacked by the Lions’ Chance Freeman as time ran out and CCPA could celebrate its first win of the 2016 season, while the dejected Hounds dropped to 0-3.
After a rough game the week before at Portsmouth Notre Dame, Woolard bounced back to put up 95 yards in the air with two scores and a team-high 36 rushing yards. The Manchester defense was also much improved, though Williams did gain 133 yards rushing, with 114 of those coming on two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.
“Any time you have a chance to win at the end and the ball doesn’t bounce your way, it is tough but I thought our guys did an excellent job of giving great effort all night long to give us a chance,” said Manchester head coach Dustin Cook. “This performance is something that we definitely want to build on as a young team to keep giving ourselves the best chance to win. ”
With the tough loss behind them now, the Greyhounds look to week four of the season and another home game, where they will host the South Gallia Rebels, a team that defeated them 49-28 last season. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m at Greyhound Stadium.
“South Gallia comes in this week as a very physical football team that wants to play smash mouth football on both sides of the ball so we have to have a great week of practice to give ourselves a shot on Friday,” said Coach Cook.
CCPA 18 Manchester 12
CCPA 0 6 0 12 -18
MHS 0 0 0 12 –12
CCPA- Hall 40 yd. Interception return (conversion failed)
MHS- Neeley 5 yd. Pass from Woolard (conversion failed)
MHS- Gould 45 yd. Pass from Woolard (conversion failed)
CCPA- Williams 85 yd. Run (conversion failed)
CCPA- Williams 29 yd. Run (conversion failed)
Records- CCPA 1-2, Manchester 0-3