Gavin saves Manual against Ballard as Crimsons move on to Male

Gavin saves Manual against Ballard as Crimsons move on to Male

With 5:15 left in the game, the Bruins were threatening. Manual was close to completely blowing a 24-0 lead after Ballard used a wacky, off-balanced formation to get back into the game. The Bruins, down 24-16, now had the ball. The Crimson sideline looked dead. Manual seemed destined to blow the game and make an early exit in the first round of the 2015 Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) 6-A playoffs.

However, on the first play of the Bruin drive, defensive end Chase Gavin (12, #44) single-handedly saved Manual’s season.

“They were throwing a screen pass, and I read it,” Gavin said. “So I went up to tip it and it came right down into my shoulder, and I thought, ‘Cool I got the ball. Heck, I’m scoring.’”

Gavin practically stole the ball from Ballard quarterback Terrance May’s (10, #17) hands and ran 10 yards for a touchdown, extending the Crimson lead to two scores at 30-16. With just 5:15 left, the Bruins were never able to recover, and Manual would hang on to win 30-23.

The Crimsons jumped out on Ballard early, leading 10-0 after the first quarter, when quarterback Will Britt (11, #17) found receiver Jailen Carter (11, #11) for a 28-yard touchdown. To make the catch, Carter had to leap over a Ballard cornerback and make a diving grab in the endzone.

Quarterback Will Britt's (11, #17) running game has made progress throughout this year. Photo by Kate Hatter
Will Britt (11, #17) ran for 79 yards on 16 carries in his first start at quarterback. Photo by Kate Hatter

“[Carter] was spread out to my right, and he had a one-on-one matchup,” Britt said. “Anytime he has a one-on-one with a corner, we go to him.”

Britt made his first start at quarterback for the Crimsons after playing receiver for most of the season.

“I was given an opportunity, and I took my chance and ran with it,” Britt said. “I trusted my teammates, and they made great plays out there.”

Even though Britt only completed six of 18 passes for 90 yards, he did throw a pair of touchdowns. Britt also had success running the ball, as he was able to record 79 yards on 16 rushes.

“He played well, and all I asked is that he comes in and managed the game,” Manual Head Coach Oliver Lucas said. “He doesn’t need to win the game, just manage it.”

By halftime, Manual had built up a 17-0 lead, when Britt found running back Andre Teague (11, #6) for a 19-yard touchdown.

“When the pressure came, I just stepped up in the pocket,” Britt said. “Andre yelled my name, and I saw him with my peripheral vision. I threw it to him and let him run it in.”

Manual has struggled to start fast so far this season, so this evening’s game was a good change of pace for the Crimsons.

Anthony Kiser (12, #42) wraps up a Bruin runner. Manual would force three turnovers in the game. Photo by Rosaun Duggenini
Derek Dorsey (12, #92) wraps up a Bruin runner. Manual would force three turnovers in the game. Photo by Roshan Duggenini

“I think that we’re finding a niche,” Lucas said. “We’re moving personnel around, and we’re finding where the pieces all fit. We’ve got kids doing unselfish things. Tim [Comstock] has been our starting quarterback, but he stepped aside so that we could get better at receiver. It’s a team effort, that’s all it is.”

This evening’s victory comes after Lucas’ announcement earlier this week that he is stepping down as Manual’s Head Coach after the playoffs. Gavin said that the announcement of his resignation motivated the team to win for their head coach.

“With the news that we heard that Lucas was leaving, the seniors and the whole team came together and decided to make the most out of the situation,” Gavin said.

In the second half, the ballgame took quite an unusual turn. It started on Manual’s first drive of the third quarter, when Britt found quarterback-turned-receiver Tim Comstock (12, #3), who ran to the five-yard line, only to fumble and have the ball bounce right into Carter’s hands, who then ran into the endzone for the score.

In the beginning of the second half, Jaelin Carter (11, #11) retrieves a slipped ball from carrier Tim Comstock (12, #3). Carter runs into the endzone for a touchdown. Photo by Kate Hatter
In the beginning of the second half, Jaelin Carter (11, #11) retrieves a slipped ball from carrier Tim Comstock (12, #3). Carter ran into the endzone for a touchdown. It was Carter’s second touchdown of the game. Photo by Kate Hatter

Manual still had all the momentum–and the 24-0 lead–when the Crimsons inexplicably faked a punt at midfield. The play was stuffed, and suddenly the momentum was shifted to the previously dead Bruin sideline.

Ballard would then pull out every trick in the book to try to get back into the game. The Bruins faked a punt, a field goal and two extra points; however, the most bizarre thing that Ballard did was the unorthodox formation they used for the majority of the second half. Ballard would line up with a center along with May and a running back like any normal play. The rest of the offensive line, plus a receiver or two, would line up on the near side of the field, while another receiver would line up alone on the far side of the field.

“That’s what they’re good at,” Lucas said. “It’s the squirrel derby offense. You hear the circus music playing, and all you can do is find out where all the pieces are or who’s juggling what.”

The uncommon formation baffled the Crimsons, as Ballard was able to score 16 unanswered points to get back into the game before the Gavin pick-six.

“We just didn’t see that coming,” Gavin said. “We thought that they may do that on a PAT, but for them to do that throughout the whole game–we just didn’t see that coming. But we made adjustments throughout the game and we were finally able to stop it.”

After the Gavin pick-six, Ballard did have one last hurrah. After scoring a touchdown with 45 seconds left, the Bruins had one final chance to take the game; however, the Crimsons recovered Daniel Levine’s (12, #72) onside kick to seal their victory. Manual survived 30-23 and will now advance to the second round of the KHSAA 6-A playoffs, where they’ll get a rematch with rival Male, who thumped the Crimsons 43-7 back on Oct. 23.

Andre Teague (11, #6) slips down to the ground in order to prevent himself from being tackled. Photo by Kate Hatter
Andre Teague (11, #6) slips down to the ground in order to prevent himself from being tackled. Photo by Kate Hatter

“We’re excited about [playing Male],” Lucas said. “We’re blessed to have another opportunity to play Male.”

Male (11-0) cruised past Jeffersontown 49-3 Friday night; however, the Bulldogs played without star quarterback Hayden Shelton (12, #15). It is unknown whether Shelton will play against Manual (9-2) next week.

“We’re going to figure them out this time,” Gavin said. “Their quarterback [Shelton] is hurt; they got some other key players hurt, so we’re definitely going to take advantage of that.”

The Crimsons and the Bulldogs will play the 134th edition of The Old Rivalry next Friday, November 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Male. It will be the first time that Male and Manual have met in the playoffs since Male beat Manual 26-0 in the 2002 playoffs. Stay tuned to RedEye for coverage of the game next week.

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