FOOTBALL: Manheim Township takes care of Governor Mifflin, 42-28
In short, they used 400 yards of total offense to earn their 400th program win.
But for Manheim Township, perhaps the most thrilling part of their 42-28 victory over Berks County heavyweight Governor Mifflin was the opportunity to play in front of the home crowd for the first time all season, and to play consistent football versus a marquee opponent.
"We knew all along our offense had this kind of potential, we just didn't put it together," said senior wideout John Stutz, whose team scored just 34 points in its first two games. "Tonight we put it together."
Stutz caught touchdown passes from senior quarterback Erik Benjamin on each of Township's first two drives, catching a third touchdown to put Manheim Township (2-1) up 34-14 with 4:34 remaining in the third quarter.
The play of the game, however, came from the defense. With Governor Mifflin (1-2) driving at the Township 29-yard line on their first possession of the second half, an option pitch from quarterback Hunter Reeser (9 rushes, 69 yards) tipped off the fingers of Shavan Prince and one-hopped into the hands of Streaks' linebacker Grayson Sallade.
"I was supposed to have the quarterback but I saw him pitch it, saw the ball hit the ground and it came right in my hands," Sallade said. "I just picked it up and went. It was perfect, really."
That sudden shift in momentum never really balanced out for the Mustangs despite their pounding-out 281 rushing yards on 32 carries, including Lucas Garner's 16-carry, 161-yard performance that included a trio of touchdown runs.
Garner's 40-yard burst with 9:43 to play in the second quarter narrowed the halftime deficit to 21-14 in favor of the home team, and his 65-yard scamper in the third answered Stutz's third touchdown grab in the third. A 3-yard score early in the fourth followed an 81-yard catch by tight end Dylan Harr, and brought Mifflin to within 34-28.
But the Blue Streaks' offense continued to maintain possession with their spread passing offense as well as the tough running of Matthew Van Gorden (22 carries, 87 yards).
"We have an experienced offense that needed to come to play tonight," said Blue Streaks' head coach Mark Evans. "We talked about we needed to score because we knew you can't replicate the game-speed of the (Mustang's) midline option."
Benjamin, meanwhile, was an efficient 20-of-35 passing for 262 yards, not to mention five passing touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions.
"He throws darts," Stutz said of his quarterback. "(Possession passing) was a big part of the game tonight because they like to run the ball, run the clock, and possess the ball as much as possible, but tonight our offense just put it together and we came out with the 400th win."
Rece Bender caught Benjamin's third touchdown with 1:25 left in the first quarter, followed by a two-pointer to Michael Sharpe.
In the fourth, Alex Wade's twisting 27-yard grab in the endzone was the final score of the night, and after Dillon O'Connor's two-point conversion catch from Benjamin, the Blue Streaks led 42-28 with 6:37 to play.
"Some guys made some great catches tonight, John Stutz, Alex Wade, they made some acrobatic catches," Evans said. "Dillon O'Connor, Riley Macdonald, the kids all chipped in."
The defense then shut the door as a 10-play Mifflin drive culminated in a net gain of just 10 yards after Macdonald's 9-yard sack and a Mustangs holding penalty.
"We had a 'D' stand right there and it was pretty impressive by us," said Sallade, a sophomore. "It was fun; a fun first home game for me. It was a lot different from the two away games to start (the season)."
"We talked to our kids about sticking it out a little bit more, giving us a little bit more effort, taking it to the next level and having some fun," Evans said. "I think we accomplished that tonight."
And what is more, they did it for the 400th time.
FIRST DOWNS 12 23
RUSHES / YARDS 32-281 38-133
PASSING YARDS 104 273
TOTAL YARDS 376 403
COMP / ATT / INT 6-11-0 21-37-0
SACKED / YDS LOST 1-9 2-3
FUMBLES / LOST 2-2 0-0
PUNTS / AVG 5-26.2 2-26
PENALTIES / YARDS 3-29 5-61
|Q1| |Q2| |Q3| |Q4| --- FINAL
GM 07 07 07 07 --- 28
MT 21 00 13 08 --- 42
Q1 - MT - 7:59 J. Stutz 14-yd pass from E. Benjamin (F. Spatafora kick) 0-7
Q1 - GM - 6:37 H. Reeser 2-yd run (B. Myers kick) 7-7
Q1 - MT - 1:48 J. Stutz 15-yd pass from E. Benjamin (kick failed) 7-13
Q1 - MT - 1:25 R. Bender 21-yd pass from E. Benjamin (M. Sharpe pass from E. Benjamin) 7-21
Q2 - GM - 9:43 L. Garner 40-yd run (B. Myers kick) 14-21
Q3 - MT - 7:42 G. Sallade 61-yd fumble return (J. Rodenberger kick) 14-28
Q3 - MT - 4:34 J. Stutz 27-yd pass from E. Benjamin (kick blocked) 14-34
Q3 - GM - 4:23 L. Garner 65-yd run (B. Myers kick) 21-34
Q4 - GM - 9:41 L. Garner 3-yd run (B. Myers kick) 28-34
Q4 - MT - 6:37 A. Wade 14-yd pass from E. Benjamin (D. O'Connor pass from E. Benjamin) 28-42
GM - H. Reeser 6-11-0-104
MT - E. Benjamin 20-35-0-262, G. Sallade 1-1-0-11
GM - H. Bortz 1-9, A. Grill 1-6, D. Harr 1-81
MT - J. Stutz 8-128, R. Macdonald 2-38, R. Bender 2-32, M. Sharpe 2-7, D. O'Connor 4-38, M. Gorden 2-16, A. Wade 1-14 RUSHING:
GM - L. Garner 16-161, H. Bortz 1-4, A. Grill 3-27, H. Reeser 9-69, S. Prince 3-20
MT - E. Benjamin 11-41, M. Gorden 22-87, N. Seprinski 2-4, D. O'Connor 1-0, G. Sallade 2-1