MANNING - If the ability to overcome adversity reveals the true character of a team, then the next few weeks might be quite telling for Manning High School's varsity football team.
The Monarchs couldn't have had much more go wrong in the second …
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The Monarchs couldn't have had much more go wrong in the second quarter of their Region VII-3A game against Timberland on Friday and a 34-7 halftime deficit proved to be too much to overcome, as the Wolves came away with a pivotal 47-25 victory at Ramsey Stadium.
Timberland held a 7-0 lead after one quarter thanks to a 3-yard Johnson Thomas run with 1:12 on the clock, but the Monarchs were driving as the quarter closed. An 11-yard Darias Williams scoring run capped an 8-play, 70-yard drive, tying the score with 11:39 left in the first half.
Things quickly took a turn for the worse for Manning.
Two plays after Williams' touchdown run, Timberland quarterback Jacquez Mitchell connected with running back Roger Gibbs on a 67-yard scoring play, pushing the Wolves' lead back to 14-7. The Monarchs then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which was scooped up James Boykin and taken 22 yards into the end zone, giving Timberland a 21-7 lead on two scores in the span of 12 seconds.
More Monarch misery came soon after, as a personal foul wiped out what would have been decent field position and left Manning starting at its own 18. A 36-yard pass play from Jack Owens to Daivd Fulton gave the Monarchs some hope, but the drive would stall shortly after as Bryan Morez came on to punt. Morez's punt would roll to the 15, where it bounced off the leg of an Manning player and was alertly grabbed up by Gibbs, who ran the ball back 39 yards to the Manning 46. Officials ruled that since the ball wasn't downed before the return that the result of the play would stand. Seven plays later, on a 6-yard Joshua Hill run, the Wolves were up 27-7.
As a team, Manning gained 105 yards on 27 carries, but those numbers were tripled by a Wolves attack that went almost exclusively on the ground. Timberland closed with 313 yards rushing on 59 attempts, with Thomas accumulating 137 yards and two scores on 26 carries and Gibbs adding 116 yards on 17 rushes.
The Monarchs came into the game tied with Timberland for sixth in the 3A S.C. Prep Media Football Poll. Manning had a bye last week following a 34-28 loss at Hanahan in the region opener for both teams. West didn't think the timing of the layoff, coming after his team's first loss of the season and heading into a game where the Monarchs needed a win to keep region title hopes alive, adversely affected his team.
"I think we came out ready to play," West said. "I'd never say we were flat. We weren't flat. That's not our problem. We just made three critical mistakes in the first half and gave them 21 points, so we're just not going to overcome that."
The Monarchs continue region play with a trip to Bishop England on Friday.
"We tied it up, 7-7, and then they threw a long pass for a touchdown and then we fumbled the kickoff and they go up 21-7 just like that," said Manning coach Keith West, whose team fell to 6-2 overall and 0-2 in region play while the Wolves remain atop the region at 3-0 and 5-3 overall. "We gave them three touchdowns in the first half, just gave them three, and you can't beat a good team like Timberland giving them 21 points in the first half. We got behind, we came back a little bit in the second half, made some plays, but it was way too late. Too little, too late. But, hey, hats off to Timberland. They're a great team and they earned everything that they got tonight. We made the mistakes, we've got to get better."
Manning showed signs of life on its first drive of the second half. The Monarchs took the opening kickoff at their 30 and Williams ran the ball hard three times for 12 yards and a first down before giving way to Camron Cain, who would break off runs of four and 24 yards. With the ball at the Timberland 30, Williams ran for two yards and Caleb Wright added a yard before Owens' pass to Jordan Brock was stopped for no gain. Owens could not get a completion on fourth down as the drive stalled at the Wolves 27.
The Monarch defense produced its second 3-and-out of the game on the Wolves' next possession, returning the ball to the offense at its 34 after a Zack Bayles punt. A 6-play Manning scoring drive really came down to just two plays. Facing a fourth-and-5, Owens hit Williams for a 10-yard gain to the Timberland 48. On the next play, Fulton broke down the right sidelines and created just enough separation from his single coverage to reel in a 48-yard touchdown catch. After a Morez PAT kick attempt sailed wide left, the Timberland lead was 34-13 with 2:46 to go in the third.
The teams would trade scores to close the quarter as Thomas ran through the Manning defense for a 29-yard scoring run, then Fulton once again was able to reel in an Owens pass and take it to the house, this time from 25 yards out. Bad snaps on both conversion attempts left the score at 40-19 heading to the final quarter.
The offense didn't stop in the fourth as both teams opened with 65-yard scoring drives. The Wolves needed 12 plays on a drive capped by a 5-yard Hill run, while the Monarchs went the distance in 11 plays as Wright did the honors with a 10-yard run. West elected to go for two with 2:30 remaining, but the Wolves were able to overtake Owens as he went to his right looking for an open receiver on a pass play.
In the loss, Fulton once again put up impressive receiving numbers, bringing in six passes for 151 yards and two scores. Fulton came close to a third score, but an offensive pass interference penalty wiped what would have been a 21-yard touchdown play off the board.
Though they got away from it a bit in the second quarter, the Monarchs moved the ball fairly well on the ground. Williams ended with 61 yards on 10 carries while Cain ran for 43 yards on six rushes and caught three passes for 39 yards.
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