Friday, October 13, 2017
Maconaquah High School
The Manchester Squires defeated the Maconaquah Braves, 25-17, in a Three Rivers Conference crossover playoff game at Manchester Friday night. The hosts third straight win left them with a 4-5 record and seventh place in the TRC. The Braves, meanwhile, fell to 2-7 on the year and will host Jimtown in next weeks IHSAA sectional opener.
For the second consecutive week, the Braves faced a strong-armed senior quarterback that proved to be the difference. Last week Southwood’s passing attack racked up over 400 yards with the much-heralded Carson Blair leading the way. Hayes Sturtsman led the Squires to
victory with three TD passes on 16 of 25 passing, including scoring strikes of 37, 79 and 42 yards. He finished with 294 yards.
After Manchester took advantage of a Brave fumble on the second play of the game and
turned it into a quick 6-0 lead with less than a minute off the clock, Maconaquah forced a punt and put together a eight-play 66-yard drive that Aaron Sedwick capped off with a 16-yard TD run with 4:40 showing in the opening quarter. Ethan Larason’s PAT kick gave the Braves their only lead of the night, 7-6.
Manchester took the lead for good, 13-7, early in the second act when Sturtsman scored from a yard out. An apparent go-ahead 20-yard Brave touchdown run by soph Braiden Walton was called back on Mac’s next series and Larason cut it to 13-10 with a 33-yard field goal at the midway mark of the second stanza. Penalties hurt the Braves throughout the contest as they were whistled 13 times for 110 yards.
Down 19-10 at intermission, the Braves forced Manchester to punt on its opening series in the third period and quickly took advantage of great field position on Carter Little’s nice punt return to the Manchester 25. The Braves converted on two third-down plays and cut the deficit to 19-17 on Collin Silvers’ seven-yard TD (Larason PAT kick) with 7:14 showing.
Manchester marched 80 yards in five plays (four passes) on its next drive and extended the lead to 25-17 with 4:54 remaining in the third quarter.
The Braves failed to convert on fourth down on its next possession and had to punt early in the fourth quarter as the final 19 minutes of the game turned into a defensive, penalty-filled slugfest. Starting on its own two-yard line with 4:42 left in the game, freshman qb Nolan Kelly guided the Braves downfield, reaching the Manchester 46 before another 15-yard penalty negated a nice 10-yard dash by the young signal-caller. Failing to convert another fourth-down play with :07 remaining, Manchester ran out the clock to preserve the win.
Walton led the Braves with 86 yards on 29 carries, while Silvers added 47 on 9 totes.
Braxton Dewey’s two nice receptions were good for 58 yards as Kelly finished with a season-high 99 yards on eight of 10 accuracy.
Tanner Howell, Silvers and Little led the defensive charts with seven tackles apiece.
Sophomore Aaron McKinley’s interception deep in Brave territory to start the fourth quarter prevented Manchester from extending its 25-17 lead.