NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Fans, friends, and alumni of Manchester University received a Homecoming 2018 treat to remember Saturday, Sept. 29.
Head coach Nate Jensen's team, with a rugged two-game road trip ensuing against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tri-leader Mt. St. Joseph University and an always-tough Bluffton University squad ahead the following two weekends, recovered from an early slow start. They rattled off 63 points over the second through fourth frames to roar past visiting Earlham College 69-0 in front of better than 2000 happy Black and Gold backers.
Tying the second-largest margin of victory in program history and hitting 60-points-or-more for the first time since 2016 didn't come easily, though. After freshman return specialist Charles Stefanek (Van Wert, Ohio) broke through the Quakers' special teams unit and raced 86 yards for a touchdown on the first play, Earlham nearly countered on their first possession. Using the arm of freshman signal caller Collin Hauschild, they efficiently moved into the red zone before a game-changing interception from sophomore defensive back Nick Tillmann (Lawrenceburg, Ind.) turned the tables. From that point, it was all Spartans and then some. Junior running back Donovan Henderson, Jr., (Hollywood, Fla.) rushed for three scores for the third time in four weeks and posted a 100-yard-plus effort for the fourth straight contest; another kick return new face in the form of Clevarius Marshall (Miami, Fla.) took a punt back 85 yards to paydirt; and quarterback Bryce Tomasi (Mishawaka, Ind.), yet another first-year standout, rushed for one score and threw for another to keep the Carl W. Burt Memorial Field scoreboard flashing consistently.
On the defensive side, there was plenty to be happy about for the Spartans (2-3 overall, 2-1 HCAC), too. An opportunistic and aggressive crew compiled a sack, 13 tackles for losses, three fumble recoveries and one interception. The stars were many, as senior defensive back Dillon Nelson (Fairland, Ind.) totaled a unit best six tackles; junior linebacker Justin Thomas (Lowell, Ind.) had two tackles for losses and a sack among his four tackles; Tillmann's ball-hawking ways gained him his third interception; and the trio of senior defensive back Lucas Lorian (Reelsville, Ind.), freshman defensive back Michael Cross (Arcadia, Ind.) and senior defensive back Austin Coughlin (Fairland, Ind.) each grabbed a fumble recovery.
MU, sitting fourth on the loop standings, take a key midseason trip to Mt. St. Joseph University's Schueler Field Saturday, Oct. 6. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m.