Manheim Central grabs share of section title with win vs. Solanco
QUARRYVILLE - It isn't like anyone expected the Barons to just go away.
Led by junior quarterback Kody Kegarise, the Manheim Central Barons scored late for a 21-18 victory over the title-hungry Solanco Golden Mules, ultimately earning a share of the Section Two championship and maintaining their title tradition under first-year head coach Dave Hahn.
"They thought they had an undefeated season going for them and we just knew that we could come in relaxed and we had to win," said Kegarise, whose 17-yard touchdown pass to Jake Novak with 1:34 left to play being the difference in the game.
After the Mules (9-1, 6-1 Section Two) took an 18-14 lead on a 21-yard outside run from A-back Prosper Eguzouwa, capitalizing on Mike Figueroa's interception of Kegarise at the 32-yard line, Kegarise (14-for-22, 164 yards, two TDs, INT; 11 rushes, 55 yards) completed five passes to four different receivers on the eight-play, 74-yard drive that took just 2:30 off the clock.
"I just came into the huddle and I told the guys, you know what, we have four minutes to go, we have to drive down the field and we have to score," Kegarise said.
"Kody had great poise," said Hahn. "We're constantly talking to him about that. It could be easy to rip him for an interception but I need you in another series and you have to be right, forget about that and lets go. Kudos to Kody, he's really coming on right now."
So, too, are the Barons (8-2, 6-1), or should we say coming back. Written off for much of the season and dealing with a bundle of injuries, Manheim Central never gave up on their season.
"It means that we're still on the map," Hahn said. "We didn't go anywhere. Instead of hanging our heads pouting about guys being injured, we worked harder, got better, got guys more reps and gave ourselves an opportunity."
"We had a shot at the title, a shot to ruin their perfect season and that's what we did."
The key factor was the Barons defense, which limited the Mules' ground-churning triple option to "only" 357 yards on 49 rushes.
Two of those rushes were long gainers, one by Eguzouwa (8-117) to help setup a 24-yard grab by Figueroa from quarterback Noah McCardell to open the fourth quarter. The other was a 52-yarder by Darren Whearry (5-83) that set up a 5-yard first-quarter touchdown run by fullback Robbie Hassel (18-94).
"We coached their butts up this week," Hahn said of the defensive effort. "They were disciplined and they did a great job. You can't ask for anything more. If you're going to beat their option, you have to be disciplined."
Kegarise opened the scoring with an 18-yard scamper in the first quarter, later throwing an 11-yard third-quarter touchdown pass to Gavin Guyer, as Central was able to lead the game throughout until Eguzouwa's late run.
Quite the opposite for Mules, who had been leading Section Two all season long, until Kegarise and the Barons had their say. Both teams now await their seeding for the district playoffs, with both sides expected to host a first-round game.
"It better mean that we have a chip on our shoulder," said Hahn on heading into the postseason. "Teams are going to come after us, they're going to say Manheim is back, the bull's-eye is back on their back, so we have to play tough."
MC - 9:13 K. Kegarise 18-yd run (D. Adams kick)
SOL - 4:33 D. Hassel 5-yd run (kick failed)
MC - 8:41 G. Guyer 11-yd pass from K. Kegarise (D. Adams kick)
SOL - 11:48 M. Figueroa 24-yd pass from N. McCardell (run failed)
SOL - 4:04 P. Eguzouwa 21-yd run (pass failed)
MC - 1:34 J. Novak 17-yd pass from K. Kegarise (D. Adams kick)
FIRST DOWNS 13 18
RUSHES / YARDS 26-91 50-357
PASSING YARDS 164 87
TOTAL YARDS 255 437
COMP / ATT / INT 14-22-1 5-16-0
SACKED / YDS LOST 0-0 3-7
FUMBLES / LOST 0-0 0-0
PUNTS / AVG 4-45.8 4-36.5
PENALTIES / YARDS 3-25 5-47
PASSING: MC - K. Kegarise 14-22-1-164. SOL - N. McCardell 5-14-0-87, T. Miller 0-1-0-0
RECEIVING: MC - A. Geib 3-37, K. Starner 3-34, J. Novak 2-33, S. Martin 3-33, G. Guyer 2-20, A. Studenroth 1-7. SOL - T. Miller 3-40, M. Figueroa 2-47
RUSHING: MC - K. Kegarise 11-55, D. Camacho 15-36. SOL - P. Eguzouwa 8-117, R. Hassel 18-94, D. Whearry 5-83, N. McCardell 18-63