September 13, 2010
Denard Robinson has been making waves in the college football world, almost single-handedly leading Michigan to wins in its first two games. Yet, as impressive as Robinson has been on the big stage, a high school quarterback in Texas might be even better.
On Friday, Kerrville Tivy (Texas) High's Johnny Manziel threw for 428 yards and six touchdowns against the third-ranked team in the state in Class 5A -- Steele High -- in a 54-45 upset victory by his fifth-ranked team in Class 4A. He also rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns. That massive stat line turned heads, but so did how singular Manziel was to Tivy's offense: At game's end, all but 14 of Tivy's 572 total yards had come through Manziel, either in the air or on the ground.
At one point, Manziel completed 15 straight passes, all part of a massive 34-for-42 passing night that came just one week after the senior quarterback set a state record with 75 passing attempts in a victory over Madison (Texas) High.
"That was fun, huh?" Manziel told the San Antonio Express-News. "I loved going up against a guy like [Steele running back] Malcolm [Brown]. We came together as a team, and we wore Steele down."
That might be an understatement, and it was all thanks to Manziel's accuracy and elusiveness, and perhaps to Brown, who ran for four Steele touchdowns himself. Here's how the Express-News described one particularly striking Manziel play in the second quarter:
Two defenders tried to chase Manziel 20 yards deep into the backfield on one second-quarter play. Manziel's solution: He avoided the sack and scrambled to the left sideline, then somehow spotted Steven Brant open in the end zone on the other side of the field, launching a pass right into his hands for a 32-yard TD.
It's understandable how a West Coast school like Oregon could hear about a player like Manziel. The numbers never stop startling. His first-half line alone -- 19-of-24 passing, 244 yards in the air and four passing touchdowns, 107 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground -- is better than most dual-threat quarterbacks put up in a game. And it's not as if the quarterback was just linking up with one favorite receiver, either. Over the course of the game, Manziel completed six or more passes to five different receivers, all five of whom had a touchdown catch.
And while an eight-touchdown game might seem otherworldly, Manziel has done this before. This is the third time the passer has accounted for eight or more scores since he became Tivy's starter.
So, what's a quarterbacking phenom to do after a virtuoso performance against one of the top teams in the state? Take on another one. Tivy will visit three-time defending Class 4A state champion Lake Travis on Friday, with the Cavaliers itching to get back on the winning track after having a 48-game winning streak snapped in a loss over the weekend.
That sounds like a tough order, but if anyone can fill it, Manziel seems to be the guy.
"I'm still excited for it," Manziel told the Kerrville Daily-Times. "To give them another loss would put another flag on this year."
Special thanks to reader Johnathan Wall for making sure we saw Manziel's head-scratching stat line.