Coming into Friday night’s matchup with Mill Valley, Manhattan head coach Joe Schartz hadn’t lost a regular-season game in 27 tries.
That’s one streak that continued in Friday’s 43-21 rout, a score that looks closer than it ever was.
“I know it’s only one game, but I’m very pleased for our senior class,” Schartz said. “There were a lot of questions going into this game about whether or not they could live up to the tradition and play Manhattan football, and at for at least one game, they’ve shown they have what it takes.”
Leading 29-0 at halftime, the outcome was never in doubt. Manhattan scored all 43 of its points before giving some backups the chance to take the field, which allowed Mill Valley to score a trio of late touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
In his debut at quarterback for the Indians, Jacob Holloway shined, rushing for 141 yards and finishing an efficient 8-of-10 through the air for 162 yards while leading an offense full of unproven talent.
“It’s fantastic,” Schartz said. “That’s a young man who played quarterback at the JV and sophomore level as a sophomore, but was out there on the field all last year for every varsity game.
“He’s just a competitor and a good athlete and he made the switch and did good things.”
At times, the Jaguars looked lost on defense, struggling to find the ball carrier in Manhattan’s flexbone offense. That led to several long runs for Holloway, who proved too elusive for the Mill Valley defenders.
But perhaps the most surprising part was Holloway’s arm and the opportunity afforded by Schartz to air it out. Holloway threw for two touchdowns, one to junior Kellen Myers and the other to Tony Daniels.
“We’re a heavy run-based offense, and we knew that we’d have to get their safeties involved,” Schartz said, “and we’ve got some athletes out on the edge that can beat people and Jake just threw a nice long ball.”
Defensively, Darian Taylor stole the show, intercepting highly-rated Mill Valley quarterback Skyler Windmiller twice in the first half. The junior defensive back nearly picked off Windmiller a third time, but the ball slipped out of his hands.
“We knew he was an athlete,” Schartz said of Taylor. “He’s a competitor. With him and everybody, we just have to keep getting better. But it was a great start.”
Mill Valley coach Joel Applebee said Windmiller, who finished 9-of-19 for 119 yards, was trying too hard to make things happen.
“I think it was more Skyler pushing things when he shouldn’t have,” he said. “Manhattan made some adjustments and surprised us a little bit on some of our deeper balls, especially at the end of the half there.”
Facing a 22-0 deficit in the first half with the clock winding down, Mill Valley opted to go to its two-minute offense to score before halftime.
Taylor had other ideas.
After one long completion by Windmiller, Taylor stepped in front of the quarterback’s intended receiver for an interception, which he returned all the way to the end zone.
But there was a penalty on the play, forcing Manhattan to start from its own 31-yard line with time running out before halftime.
Holloway hit Bret Fehr with a 9-yard pass before connecting with Myers for a 22-yard strike that made the score 29-0 going into the break.
Applebee said his team will bounce back after making too many mistakes in a tough road environment to start the season.
“The thing is, it’s Week 1,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of talent on the field, we just have to figure things out mentally. Obviously, Manhattan is very talented, but that’s why we’re here. We want to be tested like that and see where we’re at.
“We’ve got a ways to go, but our kids are resilient and they’ll work to get where we need to be.”
While both teams made mistakes in the first game of the year, it was the Indians who struggled most with mental errors and costly penalties.
In the first half alone, the Indians were tagged with six penalties for 45 yards, including two touchdowns that came off the board.
But in this one, the good outweighed the bad for Manhattan, with the offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage and dictating the game for three quarters before coming out.
“The one thing that shouldn’t go unnoticed was our offensive line,” Schartz said. “We’ve got a bunch of upperclassmen up there and they controlled the game for us. I know the running backs did some nice things and Jake did some nice things but the offensive line controlled the game.”
MHS 43, MILL VALLEY 21
Mill Valley 0 0 0 21 — 21
Manhattan 8 21 14 0 — 43
MHS — Holloway 20 run (Mullin PAT) 3:32
MHS — Holloway 40 run (Trujillo kick) 11:52
MHS — Hudgins 1 run (Trujillo kick) 5:06
MHS — Myers 22 pass from Holloway (Trujillo kick) 0:00
MHS — Holloway 26 run (Trujillo kick) 10:12
MHS — Daniels 33 pass from Holloway (Trujillo kick) 4:30
MV — Rebeck 32 pass from Windmiller (Mills kick) 10:47
MV — Windmiller 5 run (Mills kick) 5:39
MV — Short 22 run (Mills kick) 2:06
RUSHING — Mill Valley, Short 11-55, Windmiller 12-50, Rebeck 3-21, Wilson 2-14. Manhattan, Holloway 17-141, Mullin 7-37, Myers 5-5, Clark 2-5, Cossman 2-3,Hudgins 1-1, Harden 4-(-7).
PASSING — Mill Valley, Windmiller 9-19-119. Manhattan, Holloway 8-10-162, Myers 0-1-0.
RECEIVING — Mill Valley, Hatch 3-38, Rebeck 2-2, Donn 1-12, Hanna 1-13. Manhattan, Myers 2-63, Taylor 1-27, Cossman 1-3, Fehr 3-36, Daniels 1-33.