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From staff reports
MANNING - There's just something about Homecoming Night and thunderstorms.
Laurence Manning Academy friends and alumni dodged the storms at Billy Chitwood Field on Friday to take in the school's Homecoming game and accompanying festivities against Heathwood Hall, even after nearby Manning High School had canceled its scheduled game against Crestwood High School. Nearby lightning strikes and other weather concerns pushed the start of the matchup between two of SCISA 3A's top five teams back slightly more than an hour, with kickoff taking place at 8:38 p.m.
It was worth the wait for the home crowd as the Swampcats came away with a 32-14 win.
Once the game started, the third-ranked Swampcats quickly justified their poll spot one rung above the No. 4 Highlanders. LMA's defense forced a three-plays-and-out on Heathwood's opening possession, setting up the offense at its 37 after the ensuing punt. Quarterback Burgess Jordan and running back Wyatt Rowland keyed what would be 7-play, 63-yard touchdown drive, with Jordan completing two passes to Rowland for 23 yards and Rowland rushing once for three yards. Trey Sharpe broke free down the middle and raced into the end zone untouched on a 26-yard scoring run, giving the Swampcats a 6-0 lead with 6:57 to go in the opening quarter.
LMA had another excellent scoring opportunity on its next possession, taking over at the Heathwood 30 after another defensive stand. Jordan broke off a 12-yard run on a third-down-and-13 yards to go, setting up a fourth-and-1 from the 21. Jordan took the snap and broke to his left but appeared to trip as he made his break, falling to the turf two yards short of the first down.
The Highlanders took over from there but went backwards as quarterback Alex Lewis was sacked for a 15-yard loss. The Swampcats took over at the Heathwood 25 after the change of possession and scored three plays later as Gabe Harris passed for a 27-yard score to Jordan on a double reverse. Jackson Lee's point-after kick made the score 13-0 at the 10:31 mark of the second quarter.
A 40-yard kickoff return by Ronnie Porter quickly set up the Highlanders at the LMA 48. Heathwood managed two first downs and penetrated as deep as the 20 before Mickey Jordan intercepted a Lewis pass in the end zone and brought it out to the 10. Three plays later, Burgess Jordan hit Rowland in stride on what would be a 90-yard catch-and-run for the Swampcats' third touchdown of the night and a 19-0 lead with 4:06 remaining in the half.
The Highlanders took advantage of a late LMA fumble to set up a 3-play, 15-yard scoring drive as Porter took it in on a 5-yard run with 20 seconds on the clock. Grayson Tanner's PAT kick cut the Swampcats' lead to 19-7 heading to the break.
LMA took the opening kickoff of the second half and ran out more than half of the third quarter on a 15-play, 70-yard drive. The drive included 10 rushes and one pass, aided by two Heathwood penalties, including a pass interference that advanced the ball to the Highlanders' 18. Rowland would take it in from 11 yards out three plays later, with Lee's PAT kick making the score 26-7 with 5:23 left in the quarter.
After another long Porter return, Heathwood began its next possession at the LMA 33. Once again, the Swampcat defense stiffened, with Henry Black breaking through to sack Lewis for a 5-yard loss and a change of possession. Taking over at its 36, LMA went on a 9-play drive that would end with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Burgess Jordan to Rowland, stretching the Swampcat lead to 32-7 with 10:39 left in the game.
LMA lost two fumbles in the final quarter, with Heathwood able to cash one in at the 3:34 mark for what would prove to be the game's final score, a 4-yard Az'hane Salaam run.
The Swampcats improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in 3A play while the Highlanders dropped to 2-2 and 2-1.
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