NEW FRANKLIN: Manchester resorted to old-style Manchester football Friday night and handed Indian Valley its first loss of the season, 28-14, at James R. France Stadium.
The Panthers (6-1, 3-1) rolled up 24 first downs and 383 yards on the ground to win a game they had to have to stay in the chase for a Principals Athletic Conference championship.
“That’s what I love,” said Jacob Hanzel, Manchester’s two-way tackle standout. “We like to pass, but the run is definitely our strong point.”
Seniors Austin Klein (22 carries, 160 yards, two touchdowns) and John Beavers (15 carries, 114 yards, one touchdown) led a potent rushing attack, which kept the Braves’ quick-strike offense sidelined.
“It comes from our coach,” Klein said. “He says if we block and we tackle, that’s the game.”
Indian Valley never did get Manchester stopped as the game ended with the Panthers driving the ball to the Braves’ 1 before going into victory formation.
“We thought they were a physical team, but I think tonight we were a little bit more physical than they were and that was the key to the game,” Manchester coach Jim France said. “Our kids just played their butts off.”
France was especially pleased with the play of his offensive line, led by the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Hanzel, a four-year starter.
“Jacob’s as strong as a bull, but he’s got good athleticism,” France said. “He’s a leader on both of our offensive and defensive lines. He’s a tough, tough kid.”
Manchester wore Indian Valley down by using six runners, including junior Logan Harvey, who rushed for 65 yards in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got a bevy [of running backs], about five or six kids that we feel comfortable running in there, and our quarterback can run, too,” France said.
Manchester junior quarterback Pavin Parks popped a 37-yard run and completed 9-of-13 passes for 93 yards, including four strikes to senior tight end Chandler Stahl for 37 yards.
Klein’s 28-yard scoring run at 4:44 of the second quarter gave the Panthers a 14-0 lead. Braves quarterback Brady Byers answered when he faked to junior star Jake Davis and raced 55 yards to the end zone on a keeper to make it 14-6 at half.
The Panthers expanded their lead to 21-6 on the first possession of the second half when Klein capped a 65-yard touchdown drive with a 1-yard plunge.
“Our tackling was very disappointing,” Indian Valley coach Matt Lancaster said.
After a quiet first half, Davis exploded 65 yards for a touchdown and a two-point pass had Indian Valley within one score at 21-14 at 1:39 of the third quarter.
Manchester responded, and after Klein’s 18-yard run moved the ball to the Braves 5, junior Mason Hayes carried the final yard for a touchdown with 7:56 left. Matt Eidom’s extra-point kick made it 28-14.
Byers then broke loose for a 73-yard sprint to the Manchester 6 where a touchdown-saving tackle by Panther junior defensive back Anthony Miltner would prove huge in the outcome. Two plays later, Manchester senior Jesse Winter helped to seal the win when he recovered an Indian Valley fumble inside the 5-yard line with 6:41 to play.
Byers, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior, rushed for 175 yards to lead Indian Valley (6-1, 3-1).
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