New Manchester traveled to Chapel Hill Friday night for the first meeting between the two county schools. The Panthers, hosting Senior Night, scored first in the Region 5-AAAAA contest, but the Jaguars pulled away in the second half for a 42-10 victory
In the second half we were able to get the ball a few more times than the first half and we were able to find space and our athletes made plays,” said NMHS coach Rob Cleveland. “We have won two in a row and now need two more wins to get into the state playoffs.”
The puts New Manchester at 4-3 in the region and 5-3 overall record. Chapel Hill continues to look for its first win after falling to 0-7 in the region and 0-8 overall.
The Panthers went straight at the New Manchester defense out of the gate. Chapel Hill pounded the middle play after play, working methodically down field, while eating up nearly nine minutes off the clock. The drive stalled at the six yard line on a 4th-and-1 play when the Panthers were called for a delay of game. Chapel Hill went for the 24 yard field goal, and Markel Clontz’s kick was good to put the Panthers up by three.
Chapel Hill attempted an onside kick but New Manchester’s Ryan Santos came up with the ball and returned it to the Jaguar 46 yard line. Starting near midfield, New Manchester ran out the clock in the first quarter. On the second play of the second quarter, Omahri Jarrett took the handoff, and after not finding any room up the middle, bounced outside and out-ran the nearest defender to the goalline for six points. Jesse Theodocion connected on the point after, giving NMHS a 7-3 lead with 11:11 on the clock.
After forcing a Chapel Hill punt, the New Manchester offense went right back to work. The Jaguar front line bought quarterback Tabashi Thomas a lot of time to work in the back field. Thomas used a mix of runs and passes to move the ball down the field. However, after advancing into the redzone, the Jags shot themselves in the foot with two penalties, including a personal foul.
Now back at the 34 yard line, and facing a fourth down, Theodocion came in to try and make a 44-yard field goal, but the kick came up short.
The New Manchester defense pushed the Panthers back on the ensuing possession, forcing a quick punt with 1:54 left in the half. A poor boot gave the Jags the ball at Chapel Hill’s 45 yard line. Four plays later, New Manchester was at the Panther 16.
With 30 seconds to play, the Jags showed no sense of urgency, eating up nearly 15 seconds on a pass play to the endzone. The ball sailed high and flew over its intended target, Jacob Battle. Thomas came back to battle on the next play, a short pass down the left sideline. After catching the ball, Battle turned, ran a few yards, and then dove for the endzone and the ball crossed the line for six points. The kick put the Jags up 14-3 at the break
Special teams played an immediate factor coming out of halftime. New Manchester’s Tyler Simmons received the kickoff and took it to the house from 65 yards out. Chapel Hill’s Quincy Shelton returned the favor with a long score of his own on the ensuing kickoff. The Jags led by 11.
A personal foul penalty after the CHHS score, along with and onside kick attempt, gave New Manchester the ball at midfield. The Jags moved the ball to the 16 but a bad snap pushed the offense back to the 34. However, three plays later NMHS was in the endzone on a Thomas 19 yard pass to Scott. The kick put the Jags up, 28-10 with 7:49 to play in the third.
Four minute later, New Manchester added to their score when Thomas sent a perfect, high arching pass down the right sideline, which found Simmons in full stride for a 53 yard touchdown. The PAT put the Jags up by 25.
As the fourth quarter started, New Manchester took over on offense once again. On the first snap, Thomas avoided at least four defenders in the back field, and then found an open receiver way down field. Battle made the catch, split two defenders, and took the ball in for a score on a 65-yard reception. The kick put the Jags up, 42-10.
Chapel Hill’s offense managed to move the ball late in the fourth but their drive would stall in New Manchester territory. The Jags took over and ran out the clock.
“We tried to shorten the game as much as possible because New Manchester is very athletic and their speed is overwhelming,” said CHHS Justin Deshon. “They adjusted to it like good football teams do.”