It was over from the coin flip. The Manchester Greyhounds won that toss and everything else the rest of the night as they opened their 2014 regular season in outstanding fashion last Friday night (Aug. 29). The Hounds traveled to Green High School and handed a good old-fashioned whipping to the Bobcats. blanking the home team by a final count of 52-0. The margin of victory was the largest in the history of Manchester football.
“We came here my freshman year very confident and got beat pretty bad,” said Manchester quarterback Jordan Freeman, who rushed for two touchdowns and picked up a teammate’s fumble and ran it in for another. “I told our boys that tonight I was so focused that no matter what I wasn’t leaving here without a win. It was an unbelievable win for us tonight.”
The Greyhounds totally dominated on both sides of the ball with their offensive line opening huge holes in the Green defense and their defense spending as much time in the Green backfield as the Bobcats themselves. The Cats were no match for the Hounds’ overall team speed.
“I felt like we did a great job up front tonight in controlling the line of scrimmage,” said Manchester head coach Dustin Cook, who picked up his first regular season “W.” “This allowed our backs and skill kids to hit the edge and utilize our speed. Defensively, we did a good job of getting eleven helmets to the ball and as a team, we did an outstanding job on both sides of the ball.”
The rout began very quickly on Friday night as the Hounds won the opening coin toss and after a short Green kickoff, took possession at their own 45. It took just one play as Freeman ran a quarterback counter off right tackle and sprinted 55 yards for the touchdown, then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.
Curiously on their first possession, the Bobcats gambled and went for it on a fourth down at their own 45, but Manchester’s Arturo Hernandez made a big stop in the backfield to give the ball back to his team. Two plays later, the Hounds were in the end zone again on a 42-yard Bryan Young run, but that score was nullified by a holding penalty. Undaunted, the Hounds proceeded to march to the Green one-yard line, aided by a nice 24-yard scamper by Daniel Hernandez. On second and goal, Young took a hand off and fumbled the ball near the goal line but Freeman was right there to scoop it up and take it in for the score. The two-point conversion was run in by Leevi Francis and midway through the first quarter, Manchester led 16-0.
On their next possession, the Bobcats put together their only real drive of the game, holding the ball for 10 plays, but the drive ended when the Manchester defense came up big. Nick Hoskins got a sack to set up a 4th and 2o situation and on that play, Arturo Hernandez blasted Green quarterback Ryan Gaffney to force a turnover on downs. Six plays and 61 yards later, the Hounds found pay dirt again as Young swept around right end for an 11-yard TD. Freeman ran in the conversion and it was 24-0 just moments into the second period.
Again, the defense made a play as Francis recovered a Green fumble and the Hounds again went 61 yards,this time in 5 plays, with running back Brandon Saunders taking a hand off at the Green 28, bursting up the gut and dragging a pair of Bobcat tacklers over the goal line for the first touchdown of his senior season. Kicker Jordan Franklin, who missed the first quarter after some pre-game medical issues, was wide on the extra point, leaving the lead at 30-0, but it didn’t stay there long.
On the third play of the next Green possession, running back Wyatt Blevins coughed it up and the Hounds recovered at the Green 47. One play was all it took as Freeman ran left, cut all the way back across the field, and outran the Green defense into the left corner of the end zone. This time Franklin nailed the extra point and the Greyhounds took a commanding 37-0 lead into the halftime break.
“We made some big defensive stops all night long,” said Hoskins, who seemed to be all over the field. “We stayed pumped and we were all in and it was a great feeling to get the shutout in our first game. We are finally doing to teams what they did to us for years. We’re coming together as a team.”
With the lead exceeding 30 points, the new OHSAA running clock rule went into effect in the second half, but the luck didn’t change for the home team, as Gaffney was sacked on their first possession, fumbled, and the Hounds pounced on it. That turnover was quickly converted into points as Bryan Young got his second touchdown of the night on a scamper untouched around right end and the Franklin extra point made it 44-0.
With the big lead, the Hounds pulled Freeman and inserted sophomore Chase Darnell at quarterback on their next possession. Darnell had an easy job, just hand the ball to Francis who took it in from 22 yards away on the final play of the third quarter. The two-point conversion attempt turned out to be an improvised pass from Francis to Arturo Hernandez, but it worked for a 52-0 lead.
With the running clock in effect and both teams making mass substitutions, the fourth quarter went by very quickly, ending with the Hounds in possession and Darnell taking two snaps and just kneeling down as Coach Cook got the obligatory Gatorade bath and the Hounds celebrated an opening night win, the second consecutive year that they have won their season opener over Green.
The task now gets a bit tougher for the Greyhounds as they hit the road again this Saturday night for a trip to Portsmouth Notre Dame, a team the Hounds have never beaten.
“Notre Dame is a very good team,” said Coach Cook. “We fully expect them to be playing their best football on their home field on Saturday night. We have to make sure that as a team we take care of teh football on offense and get eleven helmets to the ball on defense. This is going to be one of those games where doing the little things right will give us an opportunity to be successful.”
“We look forward to a great week of practice and a very exciting game on Saturday night.”
Kickoff at Spartan Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday night.
Manchester 16 21 15 0 —52
Green 0 0 0 0 —0
MHS-Freeman 55- yd. run (Freeman conversion run)
MHS-Freeman 1-yd. run (Francis conversion run)
MHS-Young 11-yd. run (Freeman conversion run)
MHS-Saunders 28-yd. run (kick failed)
MHS-Freeman 47-yd. run (Franklin kick)
MHS-Young 27-yd. run (Franklin kick)
MHS-Francis 22-yd. run (Francis conversion pass to A. Hernandez)