NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A perfect early fall evening played host to an important Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and home opener for Manchester University Saturday, Sept. 15.
The Spartans and visiting Defiance College of Ohio combining for 83 points in 40 minutes of rough-and-tumble gridiron action … Recognizing the fight against a disease that has claimed the lives of individuals around the globe … fun for all ages around the grounds of Carl W. Burt Field that included an ice cream social, face painting, and a bouncy house for children … A little something for everyone.
Similar to the story between the lines, as the host Spartans roared out to a 34-0 lead early in the second period and didn't look back in route to a 57-26 league victory that marked the eighth victory in the last 11 meetings of the series. Even with all of the highlights spinning around the successful home opener, head coach Nate Jensen boiled it down to one word.
"We just needed to finish," he reflected. "I don't know how many times last week we drove into the red zone and didn't get anything (during a 39-33 loss at Alma). Tonight was the exact opposite on many fronts. Our offensive line was pushing guys off five yards off the ball, (junior running back) Donovan (Henderson, Jr. of Hollywood, Fla.) was running strong and completing big plays, and we were getting turnovers from our defense that helped us get this win."
On the offensive side of the football, the Black and Gold (1-2 overall, 1-0 HCAC) had enough energy to light up the evening sky. Freshman quarterback Bryce Tomasi (Mishawaka, Ind.) continued his steady improvement going 17 of 26 for 214 yards and four touchdowns, as freshman wide receiver Harrington Greer (South Bend, Ind.) was the beneficiary with six receptions for 68 yards and two scores while junior wide receiver Austin Roberts (Indianapolis, Ind.) hauled in a touchdown, too, along with senior running back Tyler Pruitt (Springfield, Ind.) also was on the receiving end of a scoring toss. Henderson, coming off an HCAC Offensive Player of the Week performance at Alma, put more impressive ground numbers up behind 25 carries for 155 yards and three touchdowns.
MU's defense was just as active. Sophomore defensive back Nick Tillman (Lawrenceburg, Ind.) picked off two Yellow Jacket aerials among four home team interceptions; senior defensive lineman Jacob Cooper (Fairland, Ind.) and Josh Denney (Indianapolis, Ind.) and the combination of freshman defensive lineman Jaylin Gaddy (Wadesboro, N.C.) and junior defensive lineman Logan Poll (Hastings, Mich.) brought DC signal caller Logan Mico to the ground for three sacks; and the Black and Gold registered seven tackles for losses.
MU continues an early-season theme of playing under the lights Saturday, Sept 22. Kickoff at Rose-Hulman's Cook Stadium is 7 p.m.