NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Propelled by an offensive juggernaut display in the second half that saw them post 28 points, Manchester University concluded its 2015 campaign on a high note Saturday, Nov. 14.
Spurred on by two more additions to senior quarterback Logan Haston‘s career touchdown pass record and two rushing paydirt strikes from sophomore running back Hunter Hardee (Fishers, Ind.), the Black and Gold, wrapping up a second winning slate in the last four years, overturned a 17-7 halftime deficit against an inspired Anderson University squad to win 35-17 and keep the Bronze Ball Trophy, up for grabs every season between the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rivals, for a sixth time in the past seven years. However, as Coach Shannon Griffith admitted after the game concluded at Carl W. Burt Field, it didn’t come easy.
“Give (Anderson University) credit … they came out, made some big plays in the first half and pretty much outplayed us the first two quarters,” the Spartans’ skipper said. “I feel like our guys wanted today to be a little too perfect, and we just told the team to relax and go out and play when we visited at halftime.”
And play the Black and Gold did. MU’s defensive unit silenced a Ravens’ offense that rolled up a long scoring strike from quarterback Brady Cavinee to wide receiver Deontez Alexander and an 11-play, 93-yard scoring march in the first 30 minutes to three punts, two drives that ended on downs, one that closed on a fumble and another that wound up with a safety for the home team in the second half. On the offensive end, after being turned over and forced to punt three times in the opening two periods, the hosts reeled off four touchdowns in their first five possessions.
“It was a great win for our football team and our seniors,” Griffith said. “For (the Class of 2016) to leave with two of their four years being winning seasons is a reflection of their work and commitment. This Bronze Ball game is the most important one on our schedule every year. To win today and solidify a winning season makes all of this that much sweeter just like it did in 2012.”
Haston, who concluded a star-studded collegiate resume as the program’s single-season and career touchdown pass and yardage leader, recovered from a tough first half to wind up with 201 yards on 13-of-21 passing. Hardee joined his backfield teammate in the school’s annals, setting a new single-season rushing mark (1,184 yards) after carrying the ball 34 times for 165 yards. In the receiving category, junior tight end Brandon Webb (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and senior wide receiver Evan Rice each hauled in four catches, as Webb turned in 81 yards and a touchdown, and Rice ended with 52 yards receiving.
On defense, senior defensive back Taylor Anglemyer (Wakarusa, Ind.) added to the Senior Day festivities with a team-leading 13 tackles, and the linebacking duo of Nathan Birk (Indianapolis, Ind.) and sophomore Mitchell Oskam (St. John, Ind.) tallied seven tackles. Defensive linemen Michael Hammer (Remington, Ind.) and Dustin Kult (Lafayette, Ind.) each recorded sacks of the Ravens’ quarterbacks to add to the senior notations, while junior defensive lineman Cole Sellers (North Manchester, Ind.) registered a sack, too.