MANNING - Laurence Manning Academy's varsity football team had its first big test of the season in SCISA 3A on Friday as it hosted Porter-Gaud at Billy Chitwood Field. While the Swampcats had a few bumps in the road, they passed that test with a …
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MANNING - Laurence Manning Academy's varsity football team had its first big test of the season in SCISA 3A on Friday as it hosted Porter-Gaud at Billy Chitwood Field. While the Swampcats had a few bumps in the road, they passed that test with a 21-14 win to bring their overall record to 4-0 and their region record to 3-0.
The win was a crucial confidence builder for LMA because it proved it could compete with one of the best teams in 3A even if it didn't play a perfect game.
"It's huge," said head coach Austin Floyd. "We still made a ton of mistakes, that's the thing. I told them at half that we felt like we should've been ahead, and we turned it over down there and we kind of set them up and gave them a little momentum. I kind of challenged them in the second half. Things are going to go wrong, but what's your character? And we showed it."
Laurence Manning got out to a perfect start on Friday night. Porter-Gaud fumbled the snap on their second play of the game and were trapped back on irs 4-yard line before eventually punting. LMA started with the ball on its 47 and charged down the field largely on the back of Wyatt Rowland. Nolan Osteen got to punch it in to finish the drive from a few yards out, as the Swampcats took a 6-0 lead midway through the first. LMA missed the extra point.
Porter-Gaud wouldn't stay down for long though. First Matt Kelly hit JD Key for a crucial first-down pass before he found Leland Hills for a 21-yard score with 3:08 left in the quarter. The extra point gave the Cyclones a 7-6 lead.
LMA responded after the Porter-Gaud score thanks to some clutch runs from Burgess Jordan. The senior quarterback stepped up with a scramble on third down and eight yards to go for a first down near the end of the quarter. He followed that with a QB sneak on a fourth down at the 31-yard line to open the second. Burgess then passed to Wyatt Rowland for a 31-yard touchdown on the next play. A two-point conversion run by Bennett Stephens put the Swampcats up 14-7.
After forcing a Porter-Gaud punt, Laurence Manning made a crucial mistake. Jordan coughed up a fumble had gave the Cyclones the ball at the LMA 16. Penalties pushed Porter-Gaud back to the 32 for a third and 25, but a scramble from Kelly brought the Cyclones to the 9. Porter-Gaud converted on fourth and three, before Kelly hit Tobias Lafayette out of the backfield for a touchdown. The Cyclones converted on the extra point to tie the game at 14-14 at halftime.Laurence Manning opened the second half with the ball, and Rowland made sure the game didn't stay tied for long. The senior back started with a kick return out to the 47 before taking the first play from scrimmage down to the 13 on a 34-yard run. Osteen punched in his second score of the game from the 5 a few plays later, as Laurence Manning took the 21-14 lead.LMA had a chance to add to their lead later in the third, but shot itself in the foot a few times.
Laurence Manning showed its character by fighting through some frustration. There were two plays that could've easily been holding calls against Porter-Gaud on its touchdown before the half, but the Swampcats didn't let those plays get to them. The Swampcats came back and won the second half 7-0 to take home the win. Floyd was happy to see how his team responded.
"You just keep playing. The ball isn't going to swing your way all the time, but you just have to keep chucking," said Floyd. "I preach all the time to control what we can control. We can control our attitude, and we can control our effort. That's what we focus on and it showed tonight. I'm very proud."
Floyd is happy to come home with the win, but he knows the Swampcats still have a lot of season left.
"We've got six more to go," said the first-year head coach. "I feel a lot better going into those six 4-0 instead of 3-1 for sure, but we go up to Ben Lippen next week, who is another tough tough team. We'll enjoy this tonight, but tomorrow, we'll get back to work."
After forcing a punt, Rowland again gave the Swampcats excellent field position at the 42. He followed that by catching a Burgess pass for a 33-yard gain down to the 29. LMA fumbled on the same drive but managed to recover the ball. The Swampcats managed to work their way down to the five, but were flagged for a delay of game on fourth and two. They weren't able to convert on fourth down and gave the ball back to Porter-Gaud. The Cyclones quickly got out of the shadow of their own end zone, as a pair of passes from Kelly got Porter-Gaud to the 50-yard line. The Cylcones started the final quarter past the 50, but were quickly pushed back as a sack by Henry Black put Porter-Gaud back on the 40. The Cyclones got back to the 30-yard line for a fourth and 12 and nearly had a 30-yard score to Lafayette, but the touchdown was called back for a hold and Porter-Gaud was forced to punt.
That punt didn't go as planned for Porter-Gaud, as a high snap forced Lafayette to try to run for a first. He fell well short and LMA got to start with the ball on the 36. The Swampcats had a bit of a scare on the next drive, as Rowland went down with an apparent leg injury, but he wouldn't be sidelined for long. LMA chipped the clock away on the ground, but Jordan was asked to use his arm one more time, as the Swampcats had a third and nine at the 37 with less than three minutes to go. Gabe Harris had his number called on the third down and the junior wide-out came up big. He pulled down a catch at the three and Laurence Manning seemed like they would cruise to a win. That didn't quite happen as a fumbled snap pushed them back to the 16, before another fumble gave Porter-Gaud the ball back.
Luckily, the Laurence Manning defense was prepared to make one more stop, as the Cyclones took over with just over a minute left. Four incomplete passes later and LMA was able to kneel out the final seconds on the clock to seal a 21-14 win.
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