Primetime Play: Spartans take HCAC road trip

Primetime Play: Spartans take HCAC road trip

Manchester University resumes a rare run of four successive night games Saturday, Sept. 22.

Game details: Kickoff at Rose-Hulman's Cook Stadium at Phil Brown Field is 7:30 p.m. … Live audio, statistics and video are available through links at www.muspartans.com, the Internet home of Manchester University athletics … Even in the wake of a 44-13 Fightin' Engineers' victory at Carl W. Burt Memorial Field a year ago, match-ups decided by six points or less have been relatively common recently, as seven of the last 11 finals have gone that route. Rose-Hulman leads 20-8 all-time due in large part to winning eight in a row.

Spartan Shorts: A perfect early fall evening played host to an important Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and home opener for Manchester University 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 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 (the previous 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 … A pair of weekly awards were collected due to the conference-opening victory. Freshman place-kicker Andrew Kibler (Coral Gables, Fla.) earned HCAC Special Teams' Player of the Week accolades, as he was among the key cogs. He nailed a 30-yard field goal and was also six-for-seven in extra points in the victory. The Sunshine State native also averaged better than 54 yards per kickoff with one touchback. Three days later, freshman wide receiver Keyounis Woods (Anderson, Ind.) was lauded with Hero Sports' Division III Football Play of the Week honors. The clip is available at https://herosports.com/d3-football/vote-play-of-the-week-3-byby ... Four Black and Gold statistical categories rank among the league's best five. Henderson, Jr., leads the conference in rushing yards per game (144) and touchdowns (six); Tomasi is fourth in passing yards a contest (188.7) and touchdowns (seven), and Greer stands tied for second in touchdown receptions (five). Those numbers play well on the NCAA Division III report, too, like Henderson, Jr., is seventh in total ground yards gained (432) and 14th in yards per contest and Greer is eighth in scoring receptions. Along team lines, Manchester University is within the top 10 nationally in punt return defense, allowing only 12.05 yards, good for fifth, and tackles for loss allowed which equals 2.67 to be ninth-lowest.

Homecoming 2018: Earlham College takes a northern trip to North Manchester for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday, Sept. 29.