To Manning High head coach Keith West, Friday night certainly felt like a whole game – even though it was just a half.
The former Sumter High state championship quarterback returned to Sumter Memorial Stadium’s Freddie Solomon Field for a matchup against his alma mater, and a back-and-forth contest eventually resulted in a 14-14 tie in the final game of the Sumter Sertoma Football Jamboree.
It was a night of both good and bad for both teams, though in different contexts. Manning played its starters for a lot of the contest while the Gamecocks elected to get reps for their backups after the first series or so.
“We purposely were not going to play a lot of people tonight and rested a lot of kids,” SHS head coach Mark Barnes said. “Some of them played two or three snaps and our No. 1 defense played one series. Then we got some young kids in and they didn’t do well early, but by the end of the game they did start doing well and we started moving the ball better offensively.”
After not sustaining much offensively in the first quarter, Sumter found its rhythm in the second behind Anthony Dinkins-McCall. He wound up rushing 12 times for 83 yards – all in the final 12 minutes.
He carried the ball six times during a 12-play drive that resulted in a 9-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Henry which tied the score at 14-14 at the time.
“It was good to see Dinkins get there; he’s going to be our JV tailback for us,” Barnes said. “He looked physical with the ball tonight and I thought Ontra (Harvin) looked good at quarterback. Overall it was good night.”
It started out especially good for Sumter as Melvin Lundy returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for touchdown. The score came following a re-kick after the Monarchs booted the first attempt out of bounds.
But that was the only real highlight for the Gamecocks as the Manning offense, and especially the passing game, was on fire early. On their second drive the Monarchs took advantage of good field position and wound up marching 52 yards to paydirt as new starting MHS quarterback Jack Owens connected with Darias Williams on an 11-yard strike to tie the game at 7-7.
Owens found another big target next drive as he and returning standout receiver David Fulton connected for a 50-yard strike to put MHS up by seven.
That duo proved huge all night. Fulton wound up with 10 catches for 121 yards and the one score while Owens finished 12 of 18 for 146 yards and the two TDs.
“The passing game worked pretty well tonight,” West said. “They were laying off of us a little bit so we were taking a lot of short stuff, but we did go over the top that one time. We had the connection to Fulton that gave us the lead and we were kind of trying to hang on after that. Thought we could pull one out, but they came back and tied it so hats off to them.”
Manning had a chance to potentially pull it out at the end, but with the Monarchs driving inside the Sumter 30 with about three minutes to go, Owens pass was tipped and intercepted to negate the threat. SHS ran out the clock from there.
With a couple of receivers sidelined with cramps in the second quarter, Manning turned back to its running game to try to milk the clock out, but the Gamecocks managed to score. Still, West was pleased with the overall effort of his defense.
“We gave up only one scoring drive so I can’t fault the defense at all,” he said. “We gave them one at the beginning, so we need to clean up our special teams a little bit and go from there.”
Both teams will open up the regular season on the road next Friday as Sumter travels to Ridge View while Manning heads to Wade Hampton.