Sep. 11—As Vinny Smith raced past the white-and-blue clad Junction City defenders on his way to a 58-yard touchdown with a little more than two minutes to play, the packed-to-the-gills stands at Bishop Stadium reached the loudest volume of the evening.
After a fourth quarter that saw the teams combine for four turnovers, Smith's big run definitively signaled to Manhattan High fans that the team's 37-21 lead would be enough to take down arch-rival Junction City and return the Silver Trophy back to Manhattan.
"We knew that adversity would strike," MHS head coach Joe Schartz said. "I challenged the kids battle the adversity with positive energy, and we stuck together and got the job done. I'm proud of them."
The win marked the 100th for Schartz.
He is 8-5 all-time versus Junction City.
"It's special, Especially coming against Junction City," Schartz said. "This will be very memorable. We practiced long and hard this week, and I owed it to the seniors to get us prepared coming off of a three-day weekend and a long bus trip."
It was a high-octane first half as the teams found the end zone five times.
Two Junction City fumbles and a long kickoff return from Vinny Smith set up the Indians with great field position on three consecutive possessions to start the game.
"I was happy for him," Schartz said. "He was upset with himself after not protecting the football, so it was nice to see him seal the victory. He means a lot to this team."
Blue Jay quarterback David Rowell put the ball on the ground on the opening drive of the game allowing the Indians (2-0) to take over at the 33. A short drive led to the first of three Smith touchdowns on the night.
The Blue Jays (1-1) and Rowell came right back and responded, connecting with all-purpose junior speedster T.J. Jones for a 45-yard touchdown to tie things at seven midway through the first quarter.
Jones was the Blue Jays' top weapon, connecting on three long pass plays resulting in 100-plus yards receiving and a score.
The Indians found the end zone again in the first quarter after a 3-yard power run from fullback Da'Shawn Edwards to retake the lead. Edwards was a stalwart in short-yardage situations, bruising his way through Junction City defenders on multiple occasions throughout the contest.
Junction City attempted a half-back pass, but the ball slipped out of Jones' hands and the Indians were there once again to scoop up the ball, leading to another Indian touchdown — this time a 5-yard throw-and-catch on fourth down from junior quarterback Keenan Schartz to senior Joe Hall. Schartz caught the Blue Jay defense expecting a goal-line struggle, but after rolling out to the left, he found Hall wide open.
The Blue Jays responded several plays later with a long drive that led to a short run for a score to get back within a touchdown.
Manhattan ended the half on a 42-yard field goal from senior Grant Snowden which also was the product of a Junction City mistake. Senior safety Colby Klieman grabbed his first interception of the season, stopping a productive Blue Jay drive and allowing the Indians to take the ball one final time before the end of the game.
Both teams came out with a renewed defensive vigor in the second half but Smith broke through on his second touchdown of the night on a 2-yard run.
Rowell did not make it back onto the field for the Blue Jays, and in his place, Xavion Felton took over at quarterback. Felton had one spark — a 38-yard touchdown pass to Tyree Holloway at the end of the third quarterback — but he lacked the dual-threat danger that Rowell brought.
"It made them a little more one-dimensional," Joe Schartz said about the quarterback change. "Plus it was late and they needed to score and they were throwing it more, and we were able to put some more pressure on him."
Senior Zach Hirschey and junior Dre Delort picked off Felton in the third quarter to wrap up a five-takeaway day by the Manhattan defense.
"They gave up a few easy touchdowns over the top, but with all of the athletes and speed that Junction City has, that's going to happen," Schartz said. "Creating all of those turnovers were the difference in the game though. The defense did a nice job of pressuring the quarterback and forcing him into some bad throws."
The Indians will host Highland Park (0-2) next Friday.
Junction City 21
Manhattan 14 10 6 7
Junction City 7 7 7 0
Manhattan — Smith 8-yard run (PAT good) 9:46
Junction City — Jones 45-yard pass from Rowell (PAT good) 7:38
Manhattan — Edwards 3-yard run (PAT good) 6:00
Manhattan — Hall 5-yard pass from Schartz (PAT good) 11:34
Junction City — Rowell 4-yard run (PAT good) 8:49
Manhattan — Snowden 42-yard field goal 20.7
Manhattan — Smith 2-yard run (PAT no good) 5:17
Junction City — Felton 38-yard pass to Holloway (PAT good) 44.7
Manhattan —Smith 58-yard run (PAT good) 2:19