By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Entering Friday on a two-game win streak, the Manchester Flying Dutchmen traveled to Michigan Center High School, home of the Cardinals, hoping to spoil the Cardinals homecoming.
After a hard fought game the Cardinals came away with the win, 21-14.
Manchester came out quick against the conference leading Cardinals, scoring on their opening drive against a defense that had only allowed 23 points through their first four games.
Senior quarterback John Zigila capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, the extra point was blocked but gave the Flying Dutchmen a 6-0 lead with 6:03 left in the first quarter.
During the first half, Manchester moved the ball efficiently down the field with a combination of quick passes to the outside and runs by Zigila and senior running back Paul Derheim.
The Cardinals responded on their ensuing drive, scoring on a 4-yard quarterback scramble from Jake Nichols to give the Cardinals a 7-6 lead at the 3:37 mark in the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Flying Dutchmen struck again with 2:13 left in the first half, Zigila had another touchdown run, this time from 1-yard out. The 2-point conversion pass from Zigila to Derheim made it 14-0 for Manchester going into halftime.
Zigila finished 13-20 for 151-yards, he also rushed for 62-yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Ty Horky was Zigila’s favorite target, hauling in four catches for 78-yards.
The Flying Dutchmen defense slowed down a Cardinal offense in the first half that had put up 98 points over the last two weeks, containing Nichols and slowing down the Cardinals run attack.
Sophomore Nick Phillips (8) and Derheim (4) led the Flying Dutchmen defense in tackles.
The Cardinals used a dominating third quarter to take control of the game, scoring on two long drives that took up most of the quarter. The Flying Dutchmen offense was only able to get on the field for two drives, both resulting in three and outs.
After Manchester had to punt out of their own end zone at the start of the fourth quarter, the Cardinals returned the ball to the Manchester 8-yard line. The Flying Dutchmen defense came up huge, forcing a three and out and getting a blocked field goal with 10:10 remaining in the game.
With 4:54 left in the game the Flying Dutchmen faced a 4th and 10 from the Cardinals 11-yard line. Zigila hoisted one to the corner for senior wide receiver Jacob Dodak and while the pass fell incomplete, a defensive pass interference was called.
Manchester got one more chance after the penalty, a 4th and 5, but couldn’t convert. The pass fell incomplete in the end zone and the Cardinals took over on downs and were able to run out the clock.
“The first half was a great first half for us, our game plan was working really well. Then they adjusted at halftime and started taking some stuff away,” said Manchester head coach Wes Gall. “Our kids responded on that last drive, but we just couldn’t finish it. One play away from finishing that last drive. Against good teams you have to do that and championship caliber teams are gonna get it done. We’re still growing, we still have some opportunity here, hopefully we can put it together against Napoleon.”
The Flying Dutchmen fell to 2-4 (2-3) and after giving a top team in the conference a battle, Gall knows they can compete next week against another top Cascades player, Napoleon.
“If we can take the play to Napoleon in the second half like we did in the first half tonight against Michigan Center, we’ve got a great chance,” said Gall. “Its executing a couple plays, its picking up a block here, noticing a situation where we can take advantage.”