MU
Oak Leaves

November 11, 2016

Football

Spartans face Hanover Panthers



Manchester Dominates for First Victory


Mack Leinweber


Manchester’s football team has not fared well in close games this year; therefore, on Saturday, Oct. 29, the crowd of over a thousand fans was thrilled to watch the Spartans chalk up their first win at Burt Memorial Field. 

Starting the season on a seven game losing streak, including several close matches, the Spartans were due for a victory. Manchester built a commanding lead early in the game and never looked back, defeating Earlham College 65-13. Like Manchester, Earlham College was winless, meaning that one team would leave with their first victory.
 
Unlike in games past, the Spartans were able to capitalize on most of their opportunities, especially due to their smart running game. The Spartans produced over 400 yards rushing, spreading the touches between three running backs.  The contributions from the running group included senior Brenner Cruce and sophomore Lucas Lorian gaining 123 and 138 yards, and freshman Donovan Henderson adding 51 yards.
 
For the throwing game, starting Quarterback Alex Downard added more than 150 yards of total offense. On the defensive side, the Spartans allowerd only 13 points. Junior Jack Kay led the team with six tackles, while senior Dan Heim led the team in sacks with three.
 
“It’s a great feeling having everyone clicking together,” said junior offensive tackle Patrick Bear. “Pretty good all-around game — offense, defense, and special teams. This is how we should be playing, but I know it’s a process.” 

Not only was it Manchester’s first victory of the season, but also the first for Head Coach Nate Jensen. “We had been so close in the past,” Jensen said. “It was nice to see our guys pull away with a win.”

Manchester looked to carry the momentum into the next week’s game against Hanover College on Nov. 5, which was their home finale for this season. This game would prove to be a battle of offense. Unlike last week, Manchester was put into a 21-point deficit early in the game, but they were able to come back with two straight scoring drives to end the first half down by a touchdown. The visiting squad had its way in the second half, scoring four touchdowns on its way to winning 49-27.
 
“Executing plays the entire game was our biggest thing throughout the week,” Bear said. “They finished drives better than us. We made big plays, but in the end they executed plays better. Although it was a tough loss, we have to stay positive for the next game.”
 
Despite falling to a 1-8 record, freshman quarterback Alex Downard showed progress, throwing for over 200 yards and a touchdown, and senior running back Brenner Cruce scored three touchdowns.

The Spartans’ 2016 season will end tomorrow, when they travel to Anderson University.