Manheim Township downs Governor Mifflin, 34-19
NEFFSVILLE — It was easy to understand why head coach of the Manheim Township Blue Streaks, Mark Evans, railed on his senior quarterback, Erik Benjamin, after Friday night’s game — not even considering a back-breaking pick-six to open the contest.
Evans no doubt thought the countless times that Township’s 210-pound signal-caller dialed his own number for option runs up the middle of a very physical Governor Mifflin defense was particularly reckless.
The veteran quarterback also opted for an impossible fade pass to Kade Kubicki on 4th down from the Mifflin six-yard line, amidst a second half in which he completed just two of five passes.
“I think we had a couple of options on that (fourth-down) play,” Evans said of the what was ultimately a great one-handed catch by Kubicki to increase Township’s lead to eight with 10:16 to play, “and Erik wants to make it fun and exciting but he earned that after he threw the pick-six.”
“Coach was going to get me on that one if I didn’t finish,” Benjamin said. “(Kubicki is) definitely an amazing athlete. I have to give it up to him, he makes me look good a lot of the time.”
Thus by game’s end, both player and coach were in good spirits after Benjamin accounted for four touchdowns in the No. 4 Blue Streaks defeat of the No. 13 Mustangs by a 34-19 count, in a rematch of a Week Three battle won by Township.
The win advances the Blue Streaks (9-2) to a rematch in next week’s quarterfinals versus No. 5 Hempfield (9-2), a 23-21 winner over South Western Friday night.
“It’s always hard to beat a team twice,” said Benjamin, recalling a 28-14 win over Hempfield just one week ago. “We have Hempfield next week so we have to prove it again that we can beat a team twice.”
While Benjamin’s 1-yard keeper with a minute to play iced the victory, it was his 6-yard option run that evened the score 7-7 early in the first quarter following Drew Snyder’s 40-yard interception return that gave the Mustangs (6-5) an ephemeral lead.
Township’s game-tying drive was a 16-play, 77-yard march that included four completions, including two swing passes to halfback Grayson Sallade to convert a pair of third-and longs, and five option-style runs.
“We just work on that a lot,” said Benjamin of the quarterback option, finishing with 19 carries for 80 yards. “This year we have a group of guys up front that can really push the line of scrimmage.”
The Mustangs responded with a 56-yard run up the middle by Lucas Garner (15-133) to take a 13-7 lead after the extra point was blocked by Sallade.
After Garner fumbled on Mifflin’s next series, however, Benjamin finished off an 80-yard drive by finding Kubicki on a quick-out near the right pylon to take a 14-13 lead at halftime.
Following Mifflin’s second lost fumble of the game, a 41-yard run by Sallade (10 rushes, 62 yards; 6 catches, 36 yards) preceded a 28-yard burst up the middle by fullback Matt Van Gorden (12-86) for a 21-13 third-quarter lead.
Meanwhile, Benjamin hit six different receivers on 14-of-24 passing for 152 yards including the game-clincher to Kubicki (4 catches, 30 yards).
“If we’re creating an advantage by playing up-tempo we’ll do it and we can do different things,” Evans said of his offense’s balance. “We can have a multi-pronged attack.”
A 10-yard run by Shavan Prince narrowed the score in the third quarter, before Township finished things off with a dominant fourth.
“It was definitely great because the last four years we’ve been one of those teams that has been able to win in the playoffs,” Benjamin said. “Just to be able to get the ‘w’ builds confidence in the program.”
And in a coach’s faith in his quarterback, no doubt.
Manheim Township 34, Governor Mifflin 19
SCORE BY QUARTER:
|Q1| |Q2| |Q3| |Q4| --- FINAL
GM 13 00 6 00 --- 19
MT 07 07 7 13 --- 34
Q1 - GM - 10:56 D. Snyder 40-yd return (B. Myers kick) 7-0
Q1 - MT - 5:14 E. Benjamin 6-yd run (J. Rodenberger kick) 7-7
Q1 - GM - 4:58 L. Garner 56-yd run (kick failed) 13-7
Q2 - MT - 6:42 K. Kubicki 5-yd pass from E. Benjamin (J. Rodenberger kick) 13-14
Q3 - MT - 8:25 M. Gorden 28-yd run (J. Rodenberger kick) 13-21
Q3 - GM - 4:42 S. Prince 10-yd run (pass failed) 19-21
Q4 - MT - 10:16 K. Kubicki 6-yd pass from E. Benjamin (kick failed) 19-27
Q4 - MT - 1:00 E. Benjamin 1-yd run (J. Rodenberger kick) 19-34
FIRST DOWNS 11 20
RUSHES / YARDS 33-197 43-220
PASSING YARDS 60 152
TOTAL YARDS 257 372
COMP / ATT / INT 7-12-0 14-24-1
SACKED / YDS LOST 0-0 0-0
FUMBLES / LOST 4-2 0-0
PUNTS / AVG 1-21 3-32.3
PENALTIES / YARDS 4-41 5-40
PASSING: GM - H. Reeser 7-12-0-60; MT - E. Benjamin 14-24-1-152
RECEIVING: GM - H. Bortz 4-35, S. Prince 1-12, M. Nessuno 1-8, L. Garner 1-5
MT - K. Kubicki 4-30, G. Sallade 3-46, R. Macdonald 2-13, J. Stutz 2-43, M. Gorden 2-15, D. O'Connor 1-5
RUSHING: GM - L. Garner 15-113, S. Prince 10-65, A. Grill 3-18, H. Reeser 4-1, M. Nessuno 1-0
MT - M. Gorden 12-86, E. Benjamin 19-80, G. Sallade 10-62, J. Stutz 1-(-6), N. Seprinski 1-(-2)