Same ol’ story: St. X notches 27th straight win over Manual

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Jack Grossman

With seven minutes left in the first half, the Crimsons were driving. Manual was facing a fourth and six on the Tiger 38 when quarterback Tim Comstock (12, #3) found Eric Niemann for what looked like an eight yard completion and a first down; however, the play was called back due to a holding penalty against Manual.

“We drove down in the second quarter and were about to tie the game up,” Comstock said. “I threw the ball to Eric [Niemann] on about their 30-yard line. We would’ve had a first down, but they called it back for holding. It would have changed the whole game if we would have scored on that drive.”

Comstock was right: that play did change the game. After the penalty, the ensuing punt was blocked by Ethan Adams (12, #97) of St. X.

“In my history [as a coach], that’s the one thing that I have always prided myself in,” Manual Head Coach Oliver Lucas said. “I don’t think I’ve had a punt blocked in seven years–we may have had one blocked when I first got here–but that should never happen. Those things should never happen to you in special teams.”

Three plays after the blocked punt, St. X quarterback Desmond Ridder (11, #9) found running back Sam Taylor (11, #42) on a wheel route for a 19-yard touchdown pass to give the Tigers a commanding 14-0 lead, and Manual never recovered. The Tigers cruised to an easy 27-6 blowout win, giving St. X their 27th consecutive win over the Crimsons, a streak that dates back to 1993.

“I didn’t think that our kids didn’t play hard,” Lucas said. “I just didn’t think that we executed. When we did execute, we’d shoot ourselves in the foot.”

The pass is complete to Jaelin Carter (11, #11) but does not count due to a flag on the play. Photo by Kate Hatter
Comstock’s pass is complete to Jaelin Carter (11, #11), but does not count due to a flag on the play. Photo by Kate Hatter.

Manual had 14 penalties on the night, which were good for a costly 98 yards.

“Every time we got a penalty we backed ourselves up,” Lucas said. “Anytime we had any momentum going somebody would just jump offsides. As a coach, it’s hard to call plays when you keep [getting penalties]. At a certain point, no matter what you call we’re going to keep making mistakes.”

The penalties almost always came at the worst times. On multiple occasions, a penalty would take away a big play or give the Tigers automatic first downs.

“We were hurting ourselves with penalties,” Comstock said. “We had a lot of penalties in the game that slowed down drives and pushed us back on second down and third down, and when we had momentum penalties would take it away.”

The Crimsons' defensive efforts failed to match the Tigers' offensive skill throughout the game. Photo by Kate Hatter
Manual’s defensive efforts failed to match St X’s offensive skill in the ballgame. Photo by Kate Hatter.

The Crimson defense struggled to contain Ridder throughout the game, as Ridder completed 14 of 24 passes for 151 yards and the touchdown to Taylor. Ridder was also lethal with his legs, as he racked up 16 rushes for 68 yards and two scores.

“We had the game plan set the way we needed it to; we just didn’t execute, and that’s something that we have to work on in practice,” Derek Dorsey (12, #92) said.

Manual also struggled to run the ball, as the Crimsons only averaged 3.46 yards per carry.

“We just need more balance,” Comstock said. “We can run the ball, we were just playing really soft today. We’re losing a lot of linemen, so we need to just stay strong as a team and believe in ourselves. We can run the ball, we just didn’t have a good game.”

“Once we get down, we need to focus more on picking ourselves back up,” Dorsey said.

Manual (6-1, 1-1 District 3) will travel to PRP next week before meeting Male in the 123rd edition of The Old Rivalry on October 23.

Next week’s game will be held on Friday, Oct. 16. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.