Greyhounds rally for first win over Notre Dame, 21-14 –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
An emotional three days in Manchester along with the annual Homecoming Night festivities were the combination last Friday night at Greyhound Stadium. Playing with heavy hearts after the loss of friend and fellow student Kylie Lucas, the football Hounds were looking to get a win in her honor and to do something that as a team they had never done in program history, that was to defeat the Portsmouth Notre Dame Titans.
The combination turned out to be one that worked for the Greyhounds as they rode the emotional roller coaster to one of the most exciting games in the program’s history and accomplished both of their pre-game goals- getting a win in Kylie’s memory and a first over Notre Dame. It was a magical night for all involved as the Hounds found themselves trailing 14-7 in the fourth quarter but rallied with a pair of touchdowns, one by Nick Woolard and the other with just 46.9 seconds to play by quarterback Shaun Gould to down the Titans by the final score of 21-14.
“I don’t mind saying that I was crying tears of joy tonight,” said Manchester senior Mason Bilyeu after the win. “When we all found out what happened to Kylie, it was just a shock to us and everyone. Everyone in this small community just came together and this game was for them. I wish that had never happened to Kylie, but this is all for her. This win is one for the books.”
“With everything that has been going on, the first thing on our minds was to get this win to help the community,” said senior Luke Thompson. “This one was for the families that were affected and this win meant so much to us.”
“For us, to beat Notre Dame for the first time, a program that we have a lot of respect for, was huge,” said Manchester head coach Dustin Cook. “We knew they would be a challenge for us like they are every year and being able to come away with a victory with the overwhelming emotion going on in the community right now is obviously big for our boys.”
“Young people are resilient and they know how to battle back a couple of days after a tragic accident and I am very, very proud of them all.”
The Hounds were actually the first to put points on the board in this game, after a nice play by lineman Jacob Calvert stopped the Titans on a fourth an seven play from the Manchester 18. The Hounds took over on downs and marched 80 yards in eight plays, getting a 39-yard touchdown pass from Gould to Woolard, who got behind the Notre Dame secondary to haul in the scoring pass. Trent Dryden kicked the extra point and the Hounds led 7-0 with 1:39 left in the first quarter.
That lead lasted the whole of 14 seconds as Notre Dame’s Ben Mader ran down the ensuing kickoff and returned it 85 yards for the touchdown, An extra point by Sam Mays tied the game at 7 at the end of one period of action.
The Greyhound offense coughed it up on their next possession when a Thompson fumble was recovered by the Titans at the Manchester 42, but again the Hounds’ defense came up big, forcing the Titans into a fourth and 18 punt.
Taking over on their own 14, the Greyhound offense held the ball for 13 plays before giving it up when Gould was sacked on a fourth down play. Notre Dame could do nothing with their next possession and the two teams went to the intermission deadlocked at 7 apiece.
After the Homecoming festivities which saw Miss McKinlee Grooms crowned as Queen, the two teams came back to the field and turned in a penalty-plagued third quarter. The Hounds fumbled the ball away on their very first play, but the defense held and force a Notre Dame punt, which was a beauty, pinning the Manchester offense back at their own three-yard line. The field position change worked out for the visitors as they held the Hounds and forced a punt, taking over at the Manchester 38 and on their sixth snap, getting a 15-yard touchdown run from Logan Emmett. The Mays extra point gave Notre Dame a 14-7 advantage as the third quarter came to a close.
It was a Greyhound team on Friday night that was determined in more ways than one and just over four minutes into the final period, the game was again even on the scoreboard. On the seventh play of their drive and overcoming a holding penalty that put them in a first and 23 situation, tailback Woolard busted right up the middle nearly untouched behind a strong offensive line push and rambled 38 yards for the score. A very important Dryden extra point tied the game again at 14.
The Hounds then pulled a trick out of the bag and a perfect Dryden onside kick was recovered by a very excited Thompson, giving the Hounds the ball at the Notre Dame 46, but two costly penalties set them back and another punt ensued. The Titans took over at their own 37 with 4:25 to play in the game and picked up two first downs and moved into Manchester territory but the drive stalled and the visitors punted with the Hounds taking over on their own 29, setting up one of the most exciting plays in Greyhound football history.
Gould ran for nine yards and Gould did the same, making it first and 10 at the Greyhound 47. On the next snap, Gould ventured left, cut back, got a couple of outstanding kick out blocks and headed for pay dirt, racing 53 yards down the sideline, followed by nearly the entire team with arms raised, crossing the goal line with 46.9 seconds left to give the Hounds the lead. Dryden added his third extra point and the very emotional and excited home team and their fans held a 21-14 lead.
“I told everybody to just get up and man to man block, “said Gould, the Hounds’ junior signal-caller when asked about his clutch run. “Everybody did their job and it worked out just right. My blockers blew up the play and once I took off, there wasn’t anyone going to catch me. It means so much to win this game and this win was for Kylie.”
Notre Dame had one more chance to tie the game, taking over at their own 26, but there was no way this Greyhound defense was going to give up a score. A quarterback sack by Dryden and a false start call on the Titans set up a fourth down and when quarterback Caleb Nichols’ final pass fell incomplete, all the emotions and frustrations of the week let loose in a wild celebration on the Greyhound sideline, as the scoreboard lit up with a 21-14 Manchester triumph.
“It was not one of the cleanest games that we ever played, but we will take a look at those things and get them fixed before the next game,” said Coach Cook. “Once again, I’m proud of the resiliency of these guys to keep coming back time after time and putting themselves in position to be successful.”
7 0 7 0 –14
7 0 0 14 –21
MHS- Woolard 39-yd. pass from Gould (Dryden kick)
ND- Mader 85-yd. kickoff return (Mays kick)
ND- Emmett 15-yd. run (Mays kick)
MHS- Woolard 38-yd. run (Dryden kick)
MHS- Gould 53-yd. run (Dryden kick)