In a showdown of undefeated Class A teams, the Manchester Blue Devils absolutely stole the show.
The Blue Devils (5-0, 2-0) made quick work of region foe Marion County (4-1, 1-1) Friday, beating the Eagles 30-0. The run game was pivotal for Manchester and was headlined by Kelvin Turner, who racked up 187 yards, and Deenizeo Gamble, who found the end zone twice.
“I’m extremely proud of our football team and our community,” Manchester head coach Evan Hochstetler said. “They came out and supported us, and it felt like football in the ’90s at Manchester. Our kids, we asked them to be accountable and play for each other, and they did that. They each did their job, went out there and good things happened.”
Gamble was in the right place at the right time on the Blue Devils’ opening drive. One of Gamble’s teammates fumbled near the Marion County goal line, and Gamble quickly reacted. The junior picked it up on the 2-yard line and fell into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.
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Kalil Brawner showed off his elusiveness with 6:25 left in the first quarter. Brawner took a hand-off toward the right sideline, quickly realized he had no room and cut back to the middle. He recognized a hole in front of him, hit the high gear and juked one last Marion County defender downfield on a 54-yard touchdown run.
“The play was a jet right, and I saw someone come to the outside,” Brawner said. “I didn’t have nothing else to do, so I had to cut it up. I saw the path all the way, so I just made a cut or two and got in.”
Brawner’s run, coupled with a two-point conversion caught by Brawner gave Manchester a 16-0 lead.
Manchester put the game away in the closing minutes of the third quarter. After quarterback Garrett Brown found Turner on a screen pass that went for 52 yards, Gamble found the end zone again. Gamble barrelled through the Marion County front seven, pushing his way to paydirt on a 15-yard score. The two-point conversion left the Blue Devils with a 24-0 lead.
Turner added a touchdown with a 1-yard run with 4:26 left in the fourth quarter.
With the Manchester offense chugging along well, the Manchester defense was equally successful. Marion County running back Travon Matthews, who had torn up various defenses the past two seasons, was held to 41 yards.
The home squad was in total control after 24 minutes. Manchester had two first-half touchdown passes from Brown to Brawner called back, each on apparent holding calls.
“It feels real good,” Brawner said of the victory. “It should have been 50-0, but we’ll take the 30-0.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports