In a hostile road environment at Manchester Valley Friday, a big defensive play early on went a long way toward quieting the crowd and sparking South Carroll to a night to remember.
On a fourth down in the first quarter, Cavaliers’ junior Benjamin Simmens busted through the line and blocked a punt to set his team up deep in Manchester Valley territory. A couple plays later, South Carroll cashed in with a touchdown and never slowed down after that on the way to a 43-0 victory.
“Special teams was huge tonight,” South Carroll head coach Mike Kraus said. “It started off with the block, good returns, good coverages. That is a weapon that is tough [for opponents] to handle.”
After Simmens’ block gave South Carroll (2-0, 4-0) a first down inside the Manchester Valley (0-2, 2-2) 20-yard line, Cavs running back Nathan Boore picked up a first down on a run to set up the ball inside the 10. Two plays later, quarterback Ryan Barnard found Gage Duncan in the front corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Pressure by South Carroll’s defense wreaked havoc on the next Manchester Valley drive, as Simmens and senior Sean Patrick each registered a sack to help force a three-and-out.
“Our defense, we’re fast and aggressive,” Kraus said. “We are bringing more than you can block. We stay hungry. Our kids are buying in — we are real pleased with it.”
The Cavaliers’ offense kicked into high gear on the ensuing drive. On the second play of the possession, Barnard hit junior wideout Drake Hebron for 69 yards to set up South Carroll at the 10. Two plays later, Boore finished the drive with a 6-yard run around the end for a 14-0 lead.
“It’s a great feeling, from last year to this year we’ve kept building,” Barnard said of his team’s perfect start. “We have a great bond and that is what’s allowed us to stay undefeated.”
South Carroll didn’t slow down in the second quarter, scoring twice more to extend its cushion to a 28-0 lead a halftime. On the third touchdown of the night, the Cavaliers took advantage of good field position and drove 55 yards for the score. Barnard was nearly perfect on the drive, completing three passes, including the capper, which was a 1-yard toss to Antonio Rodrigues.
As the clock wound under 5 minutes to go in the second quarter, the Cavaliers struck again. Barnard put a stamp on a highlight-filled first half with a 20-yard dash for the score. On a third down, the senior took the direct snap, shook off a few tackles and barreled his way into the end zone to push the lead to 28.
“I wasn’t really looking for a touchdown, just trying to make something happen,” Barnard said. “I just tucked it and made guys miss.”
The South Carroll defense made another big play to start the second half. On third down, Mavericks quarterback Jake Boog had his long pass tipped at the line of scrimmage and Cavaliers’ defensive back Logan Miller picked it off and returned it to the Mavericks’ 20. Three plays later, Caleb Blum plunged in from 2 yards out.
Boore capped off a big night for the defense on Manchester Valley’s next possession. The junior stepped in front of a pass along the sideline at the 20-yard line and returned it the distance to finish off the scoring.
“Nate Boore got some special assignments this week on the coverage schemes,” Kraus said. He played it perfect. Right place at the right time.”
For Manchester Valley, it’s a back to the drawing board approach after a game that got out of hand.
“We need to get back to basics,” Mavericks’ coach Bernie Koontz said. “We didn’t do some of the fundamental things well tonight that we have been doing well all year. Give it to South Carroll. They flew to the ball and played pretty aggressive this evening against us. I think that was the difference in the game tonight.”
SOUTH CARROLL 43, MANCHESTER VALLEY 0
SC – Gage Duncan 8-yard pass from Ryan Barnard (Barnard kick good)
SC – Nathan Boore 6-yard run (Barnard kick good)
SC – Antonio Rodrigues 1-yard pass from Barnard (Barnard kick good)
SC – Barnard 20-yard run (Barnard kick good)
SC – Caleb Blum 2-yard run (Barnard to Caleb Blum conversion good)
SC – Boore 21-yard interception return (Barnard kick good)