Fayetteville hangs on for 20-12 win –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
After suffering a 61-0 defeat at the hand of the Fayetteville Rockets in 2016, Coach Dustin Cook and his Manchester Greyhounds football squad were looking for a bit of revenge last Friday night as they hosted the Rockets at Greyhound Stadium in the 2017 regular season opener for both teams. A fired-up Greyhound squad, especially on the defensive side, put up quite a battle but in the end it was the Rockets who prevailed, hanging on for a 20-12 victory over the home team.
“We came out early and looked great defensively in the first half,” said Cook. “We did a great job of playing our positions and assignments and getting 11 helmets to the football, and that really continued throughout the whole game. We got a little tired there at the end but we were a bend but don’t break attack. We had guys coming in and out of the game to fill some spots because of injuries, but it was a total great defensive effort.”
The first quarter got off to a good start for the Hounds, with their defense forcing a punt on the first Rocket possession and a nice return by Avery Reed setting up the Manchester offense on the Fayetteville 32. The Hounds couldn’t take advantage, however, as a muffed handoff resulted in a recovery by the Rockets’ Nate Tipis.
Fayetteville would then return the favor with a turnover by their offense when quarterback C.J. McCulley’s pass was picked off on a nice leaping interception by the Hounds’ Denny Polley. That gave the ball to the home team on the Fayetteville 46 and they took advantage with their first touchdown of the 2017 campaign.
On the sixth play of the drive, quarterback Shaun Gould dropped back to pass on third and 15, found no open receivers and decide to tuck it in and run. Thirty six yards later, Gould was in the end zone for a score. The two-point try failed but the Hounds were on the board with a 6-0 lead.
When the Rockets got the ball, they went to the ground game, reeling off 14 plays, all but one of them runs, before turning the ball over on downs when the Greyhound defense stopped Rockets’ running back Hunter Jester on a fourth down play. The Manchester offense came back on the field with a new man calling the signals as Marcus Neeley replaced Gould who had suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him the rest of the night. The Hounds went three-and-out and punted, setting up the visitors at their own 48 and eight plays later, the Rockets had their first TD of the season, with Jester taking it home from one yard out, then running in the two-point try for an 8-6 Fayetteville advantage with 3:58 left in the first half.
The Hounds’ offense then held on to the ball for the rest of the second stanza, eight plays worth, but the half came to a close when Neeley’s long desperation pass on the final play was intercepted by Fayetteville’s Tipis.
Defense ruled the third quarter on both sides as the Hounds punted the ball away on their first possession and the Rockets ran 12 snaps and wasted a first and goal opportunity, turning the ball over on downs at the Manchester 24-yard line. Both teams punted on their next possessions as the third period wound down and ended with the Rockets still clinging to a two-point lead.
The Hounds were driving early in the fourth quarter and deep in Fayetteville territory when the turnover bug struck again, this time a fumble after a nice run by Nick Woolard popped right into the hands of the Rockets’ Chase Lockwood, who returned it all the way for a score that was called back by a penalty, leaving the Rockets with the ball at their own 23.
“That’s football and we talk all the time about taking care of the ball and we trust the ball in Marcus’s hands but those things happen,” said Coach Cook. “He will learn from the mistake and be a better athlete the next time he touches the ball. You have to have a short memory regardless of what sport you play and we haven’t lost a bit of confidence in him. He’ll bounce back and make plays for us.”
Fayetteville then put together a long drive against a Manchester defense that may have been wearing down a bit and was also minus two starters in Gould and Mason Bilyeu, who went down with an ankle injury. Fueled by a 38-yard run by Jester, the Rockets added to their lead when Jester went in from two yards out and after a failed conversion, the visitors led 14-6 with 7:40 to play.
The Greyhound turned the ball over on downs on their next possession and the Rockets quickly took advantage, going 40 yards in eight plays and getting a two-yard touchdown run from Seth Allen to take what looked like a comfortable 20-6 lead with 2:31 left, but that was before the Hounds’ Avery Reed made things a little more interesting.
Reed tracked down the Fayetteville kickoff, turned upfield, and romped 90 yards for a score, bringing the Manchester crowd to life and the Hounds within 20-12 with 2:14 to go. The home side then lined up for an onside kick from Trent Dryden, which looked to be successful, but the officials ruled that the ball had been touched by the Hounds before traveling the required 10 yards, giving the ball back to the Rockets. After running three plays and the Greyhounds using their last timeout, McCulley took a knee on the game’s final two snaps as the clock ran out and the Rockets escaped with the 20-12 win.
“We have to take this next week to get healthy,” said Coach Cook. “That is first and foremost, taking care of the serious injuries and then all the bumps and bruises that come with a football game. “We”We’ll get the film on Miami Valley and get back after it.”
For the Hounds, a tough stretch of the schedule now awaits with four consecutive road games, the first of those coming this Friday night when they will battle a former Ohio Valley Athletic League foe in the Miami Valley Christian Academy.. That game is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Turpin High School, the home field of MVCA.
Fayetteville 0 8 0 12 –20
Manchester 6 0 0 6 –12
MHS- Gould 36-yard run (conversion failed)
FHS- Jester 1-yard run (Jester Run)
FHS- Jester 2-yard run (conversion failed)
FHS- Allen 2-yard run (conversion failed)
MHS- Reed 90-yard kickoff (conversion failed)