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MU Football Prepares for Homecoming Game  
Josh Vardaman
Sports Columnist

The Manchester football team has experienced its fair share of ups and downs this season, but after two straight wins it looks to be ready to face off against conference foe Earlham College during Homecoming weekend.

After handing Bluffton University its first conference loss two weeks ago, the Spartans carried their momentum into last week against Defiance College and left victorious. Manchester trailed Defiance 21-14 early in the second quarter, but scored 20 unanswered points to take the 34-14 lead. Defiance added a touchdown late in the game, making the score 34-28 at the final buzzer.

Before rattling off two straight conference wins, MU began the season 0-4. Two of its losses, one against Kalamazoo and one against Rose-Hulman, came by a mere two points. Despite being on the wrong side of the scoreboard, the youthful Spartans showed a lot of promise by keeping the score close in all four games.

“With our young team we have been in every ball game but we just did not put four quarters of football together during the first four games,” said head coach Shannon Griffith.  “Last Saturday at Bluffton we played very good football from start to finish and our guys got rewarded with a victory.”

Despite having a very young team, starting only two seniors on offense and four on defense, Manchester has stuck to with the top in the conference in total offense and defense. Going into this weekend, MU is ranked fourth in offensive points per game at 25.7, and third in defensive points per game at 26.7.

They have been able to force a lot of turnovers so far this season, ranking third in the conference in interceptions with nine and recovering four fumbles. Part of the reason for the sloppy play by opponents is the high number of sacks recorded by MU, who rank second in the conference with 15, four coming from sophomore Jon Scribner.

The strong play on both sides of the ball will have to continue this week against upset-minded Earlham College. The Quakers are going into week six of their regular season, and have yet to record a win. The team ranks at the bottom of the HCAC in most offensive and defensive categories, but it will be tough for Manchester to keep its focus with the distractions surrounding Homecoming week. Coach Griffith has a game plan to keep his players focused on the game, though. “We just try to keep things at a normal pass all week,” he said.

Homecoming week is a special time for athletes every year, and the excitement of having packed stands of fans and alums excites Griffith, and he knows the weekend is not only about the Manchester football team.

“Homecoming gives former players and alumni a chance to come back to MU and watch a game and see what changes have occurred on our campus,” he said. “The best part of it all is that it is not just about football. We have several other sports competing on Saturday as well.”

Manchester and Earlham take the field at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and the Spartans will look to keep their momentum going and improve to 3-4 overall and 3-2 in the HCAC.

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