Manchester offense stalls in miserable conditions –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
After losing by just one score to Fayetteville at home in their season opener, the Manchester Greyhounds boarded the bus last Friday night for a trip to Spartan Stadium at Turpin High School, the home turf of their week two opponent, the Miami Valley Christian Academy Lions. Also following the Hounds to the city were Friday’s remnants of Hurricane Harvey, which dumped a steady rain throughout most of the entire contest. The Hounds were looking to avenge a 41-6 defeat last season, but that wasn’t to be the case as the host Lions handled the weather conditions and jumped to an early lead and never looked back, coasting to a 45-0 rout of the Manchester squad.
The rains dwindled to a light mist when the game began and the Lions took full advantage, scoring early and often. MVCA received the opening kickoff and promptly marched through the Manchester defense on a six play, 68-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by running back Sam Smith. Quarterback Caleb Lusby ran in the two-point conversion, giving the home team an 8-0 advantage.
As the intensity of the rain increased, the Greyhound offense stumbled in their first two possessions, going three-and-out both times and seeing the Lion offense continue to dominate. After the first Manchester punt, MVCA marched 72 yards in seven plays, aided by a personal foul call on the Hounds, and got an 11-yard scoring run by Lusby and a two-point run by Gavin Bangert to lead 16-0 with 5:16 left in the first quarter.
The Lions were far from done, however, starting their next possession inside Manchester territory and with the aid of yet another personal foul call on the Greyhounds, made it three touchdowns in three possessions when Lusby took it in from eight yards out. Smith ran in the conversion and the Hounds were in a huge first quarter hole, trailing 24-0.
As the first quarter rolled into the second, the Manchester offense finally seemed to adjust to the wet turf and get untracked, keeping the ball on the ground for 10 plays and navigating 52 yards, down to the MVCA 13. On a first down play, the handoff between quarterback Marcus Neeley and running back Nick Woolard was mishandled and the fumble was recovered by the Lions’ Nathan Cox, thwarting the best Greyhound threat of the first half. MVCA took that fumble and rolled through the Manchester “D” yet again, going 87 yards on this drive, culminating in a five-yard scoring run by Bangert. The two-point run by Bangert made it 32-0 and with the rains turning into a downpour, the first half came to a close.
With the OHSAA mercy rule of a running clock enforced when a team has a 30-point lead, the third quarter went by quickly as all the plays called on both sides were running plays with the conditions not conducive to putting the ball in the air. The Manchester defense did finally get their first stop of the game, forcing an MVCA punt, but the Greyhound offense continued to struggle and the third stanza ended with the visitors still facing the same 32-point deficit.
That gap grew early in the fourth period when MVCA’s Ryan Conklin got loose for a 47-yard touchdown scamper. The extra-point kick was wide right and the Lions’ lead now stood at 38-0. After another Greyhound turnover, Conklin struck again, racing 38 yards unchallenged to pay dirt. The extra-point was booted by Will Cox, accounting for the final point in a 45-0 MVCA triumph.
Manchester did have one last opportunity to get on the board as Woolard broke a long run on the game’s final play, but he was stopped inside the MVCA 10-yard line as time expired and the Hounds fell to 0-2 on the season.
The Manchester squad will try to pick up the first win of 2017 on Friday night when they will be on the road for the second consecutive week, making the long trek to Hannan, West Va. to face the host Wildcats, who also stand at 0-2 on the season, in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.