In the wee hours of the morning, Greyhounds outlast Hannan 16-8 –
By Mark Carpenter –
It certainly turned out to be a long night at Greyhound Stadium on Friday, Sept. 7, but it also turned out to be a profitable one for the Manchester Greyhound football squad. After lasting through a two-hour weather delay near the end of the first quarter and then through two overtime periods, the Hounds, somewhere around one o’clock in the morning, left with their first win of 2018, getting past the Hannan, West Va. Wildcats by a final score of 16-8.
Friday night’s game had a little bit of everything, multiple turnovers from both sides, some solid defensive stands from both sides, penalty flags both ways, and a lightning show that sent both sides back to the locker rooms before completing even one period of play.
‘The biggest thing to do when you get along delay like that is just making sure your kids just stay calm,” said Manchester head coach Dustin Cook. “You make sure they have enough fluids during the break, and make sure they aren’t all hyped up, just control their emotions. I thought our kids did a really good job of being mature during the delay and concentrated on what they had to do when they got back on the field.”
The game began with a little trickery from the Hounds as an attempted onside kick traveled only nine yards, setting the Wildcats up in Manchester territory. Using the hurry-up offense, Hannan held the ball for seven plays, only to be stopped on fourth down, giving the ball back to the home team. The Hounds’ opening possession looked promising, moving into Hannan Territory before a second down screen pass from quarterback Avery Reed was picked off by the Cats’ Logan Barker.
The visitors took advantage of the mistake, driving 67 yards in just six plays, getting a 24-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Jordan Fitzwater in the end zone to tally the game’s first points. The two-point try was stopped and Hannan had a 6-0 advantage.
The Greyhound offense took care of that deficit rather quickly, in the process getting their first points of the season after being shutout the first two weeks. On their second play after the Hannan score, Reed called his own number, went inside, then cut outside and raced untouched down the left sideline for a 63-yard scoring run with 1:15 left in the first quarter. The extra point attempt was wide right and the game was tied at 6.
The weather had not been good the entire day, though the rain had halted early in the first quarter, but on Hanna’s next possession and with just 5.2 seconds left in the first, the officials spotted lightning on the horizon, meaning the teams cleared the field for a delay that eventually lasted nearly two hours. Around 10:15 p.m. the teams were finally able to resume play and after the Manchester defense made a stop, the Hounds went on a 10-play drive that ended with a Reed fumble, recovered by the Wildcats, who punted it back to the home team, who drove into the red zone, only to turn the ball over on downs.
“Defensively we made big plays all night, we did a good job of tackling, and we forced some turnovers,” said Coach Cook.
The Wildcats began at their own seven-yard line and after a false start penalty set them back, Manchester’s Rylan Bailey tackled a Hannan runner in the end zone for a safety, giving the Greyhounds an 8-6 advantage into halftime, which actually never happened with the two sides already experiencing the long delay.
The third quarter was parade of offensive futility as neither team mustered much of anything, four possessions combined ending in two punts, another Hannan Interception, and a Wildcat fumble recovered by the Hounds.
Though points were at a premium, the fourth quarter was action-packed with two teams both hungry for that first “W” of the season. The Greyhounds had a Reed TD run nullified by penalty and then fumbled the ball away again, and Hannan moved the ball to the Manchester 15, before a Trey Spears interception snuffed out that drive. That poor field position came back to haunt the Hounds as they were forced to punt from their own end zone and a low snap left Bailey alone in his own end zone, where he was tackled by a swarm of Wildcats, resulting in a safety that tied the game at 8 with 3:02 to play.
After the ensuing free kick, the Cats drove the ball all the way to the Manchester 7, but a fourth and goal pass fell incomplete, and the two teams, a little after midnight, were headed into overtime.
High school overtime rules are like those of college football, each team getting possessions until someone comes out on top. Hannan got the first possession and failed to score when a fourth down pass was batted away by Manchester’s Nathan Rife. The Hounds also failed to score on their first possession, and got the ball right back when the teams switched ends of the field for the second overtime. This time they cashed in as Reed scored from two yards out on third and goal, then took in the two-point try to make it 16-8.
“Avery has been a kid in our program for the past four years that has done anything and everything we’ve asked him to do,” said Cook. “He has played numerous positions and now he’s our quarterback and he just goes in and gives it his all and that is all we can ask of him.”
All the Greyhound defense needed to do now was make a stop, and four incomplete Hannan passes later, the home team could celebrate their first win of the season, overcoming a long night and late hours to prevail in double OT.
“The kids on both sides did a good job of battling all night in the weather conditions and with the limited numbers that both teams have, they fought until the end,” said Coach Cook. “Late in the game we made some crucial stops after our offense put us in some terrible field position, but everyone stepped up and did what they were supposed to do.”
On Friday, Sept. 14, something will happen at Greyhound Stadium that has not been seen since 1979, as the Greyhounds will host the North Adams Green Devils in an all-Adams County battle. That last meeting resulted in a 28-0 North Adams win so the Greyhound will be looking for revenge, 39 seasons later. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.