MANNING -- Manning High School's football team clicked in all three phases of the game Friday at Ramsey Field as the Monarchs spoiled Georgetown High School's long-awaited return to the football …
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MANNING -- Manning High School's football team clicked in all three phases of the game on Friday at Ramsey Field as the Monarchs spoiled Georgetown's long-awaited return to the football field with a 37-7 rout of the Bulldogs.
Friday marked Georgetown's first game since suffering a 40-0 loss to Andrews on Sept. 7. Hurricane Florence ravaged the South Carolina coast the next week, forcing the Bulldogs, now 1-3 overall and 0-1 in Region VIII-3A play, to cancel games with Socastee and Waccamaw.
"This is their first game back after the storm, and they're really catching it down in the Lowcountry," said MHS head coach Keith West. "But our guys played really well, and hats off to us tonight. We did what we had to do. It was probably our best game of the year so far. We finally played four quarters on both sides of the ball. We ran the ball a little better, we threw the ball OK. We played great defense, special teams tonight we faked a punt and got a big first down. We blocked a punt, so yeah, we were good in all phases tonight."
The fake punt came early in the second quarter, on the drive after Georgetown's only score. Facing a fourth down and 12 yards to go at the Bulldog 45, the Monarchs came up with a play that resulted in a 30-yard gain on a pass to Dontavius Hilton. With the ball at the 15 it took just two Darius Williams rushes, for 10 and then the final five, to punch it into the end zone, giving the Monarchs a 14-7 lead.
Four plays later, Anthony Gibbs brought punter Ishmael Taylor down in the end zone for a safety after a high snap. Following a 24-yard Demont Dennis return of the ensuing free kick, Williams added a 2-yard scoring run with 16.4 seconds left in the first half, giving MHS a 23-7 lead at the break.
Williams rushed eight times for 39 yards and two scores and caught one pass, off a tip by a Georgetown defender, for seven yards. Williams would have had another score on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Jack Owens, but the play was negated by a procedure penalty against the Monarchs.
"He's been doing that for two years now for us," West said of Williams' dominant running style. "That's worked really well for us and the kids believe in it and it's working, so we'll keep doing it."
Chandler Brunson also found the end zone for MHS, finishing off a 4-play, 24-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run that gave the Monarchs a 7-0 lead after a fumble recovery on the Bulldogs' opening possession.
With the exception of a 17-play, 71-yard drive ending in a 9-yard Taylor run that briefly forged a 7-7 tie, the Monarch defense shut the Bulldogs down. Georgetown managed just nine first downs, with five coming on its scoring drive and just two coming in the second half. MHS came away with three fumble recoveries on the defensive end, including one by Rodney Steward for the Monarchs' final touchdown of the game, and Hilton came up with an interception on the final play of the first half. Trevaughn Harvin put an exclamation point on the stellar defensive effort with a sack of backup Georgetown quarterback Pep Jordan on the game's final play.
"The whole defense played great, led by number 19, Keilah Dupree (and) 51, Chris Livingston," said West, whose team improved to 5-2 and 2-0 with its fourth consecutive win. "I mean, they're all over the field. They're hard to block, they're fast, they're aggressive. Anthony Gibbs, he's right there with them. We've got three or four guys who are playing really, really well right now."
Special teams came up big on a number of occasions, probably none bigger than a blocked punt by Gibbs that set up a Zion Phillips recovery in the end zone for another Monarch score. Gibbs, who also had a defensive fumble recovery, put two points on the board with an end zone tackle of Georgetown punter Taylor after a high snap.
As dominant a win as the Monarchs had, they could have had more. Along with Williams' touchdown reception that was called back, MHS missed a fourth-quarter opportunity after Gibbs' fumble recovery. That play set the Monarchs up at the Georgetown 21, but a procedure penalty led to a third-and-13 at the 24. Owens passed to Phillips in the end zone but Phillips was knocked down by a Bulldog defender before the ball arrived. With a recent rules change in high school ball, that pass interference penalty was walked off as half the distance to the goal, setting up a fourth-and-1 at the 12. Caleb Wright took the handoff but was stood up at the line of scrimmage and came up just short, turning the ball over on downs.
"We should get that, we should get that on fourth-and-1," West said. "I'm not sure exactly what happened on that. I think we ended up bouncing it instead of just hitting it up in there. The college rule, if you have interference in the end zone I think you get it at the 1 or 2, but the high school rule is a little different. I think you still only get the 15, or the half the distance."
MHS looks to stretch its winning streak to five games with a trip to Pawley's Island Friday to face Waccamaw.
"It's another region game," West said. "Right now we're on top of the region and we want to stay on top of the region."
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