NORTH MANCHESTER – Both teams averaged more than 26 points last year, but seemingly no one was surprised that Trine and Manchester had a low-scoring, hard-hitting football game Thursday at Burt Field.
If you know anything about this (series), and this is now the eighth time we’ve played, then you know it’s always like this, said Trine coach Matt Land, after his team won 19-3 in the season opener for both teams.
Tyler Keck, a preseason All-American, made four of five field goals as Trine improved to 7-1 against Manchester.
Anthony Yoder, who made his first start as the Thunder’s quarterback, completed 14 of 21 passes for 144 yards and a 31-yard touchdown pass to Gage Corner. But He came away feeling that the Thunder needs to better capitalize on its scoring opportunities.
It feels great to win, said Yoder, whose team was 7-3 last year. We could have punched the ball in a little bit more, but we’ve got a great kicker, an All-American, and our defense stepped up. That’s what we have to do – keep moving the ball and punch it in at the end, not rely on our kicker so much.
Austin Shoemaker rushed 19 times for 87 yards for Trine. He also had six catches for 36 yards. Richard Gunn had 13 carries for 73 yards. Caleb Nitz had six solo tackles.
We had a lot of mental errors and broken-down drives, Yoder said, but we’ll just watch the film, break it down, be able to correct those and in the next game, we’ll punch it in better.
Manchester finished last season 6-4 and on a six-game winning streak, its longest since 1968 and 1969.
Spartans quarterback Nick Williams completed 13 of 24 passes for 146 yards with one interception. Dakota Nelson had five catches for 52 yards.
Manchester had a chance to take the early lead, but on fourth-and-4, a Williams pass over the middle was intercepted by linebacker Tony Miranda at the 26-yard line. That set up the Corner touchdown with 5:51 remaining in the first quarter.
A 44-yard second-quarter punt return by Manchester’s Brice Peyton set up Riley Ellington for a 26-yard field goal with 8:55 remaining in the second quarter.
The ensuing kickoff was returned 83 yards by Trine’s Richard Gunn to the 9-yard line. But the Thunder was set back by a holding penalty and had to settle for a 31-yard Keck field goal and a 10-3 lead.
Trine extended its lead to 13-3 early in the third quarter – Keck made a 25-yard field goal – and Manchester was threatening to keep it close before a fumbled pitch was recovered by Thunder lineman Charles Dreesen. That set up a 36-yard Keck field goal for a 16-3 lead with 40 seconds remaining in the third.