DEFIANCE, OHIO -- The Defiance College football team dropped a 42-21 decision against Manchester (Ind.) University in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference game at Justin F. Coressel Stadium.
Junior Cody Wilson (McComb) caught two touchdown passes to go along with 96 yards and seven receptions. He also had two rushes for 31 yards. Sophomore quarterback Logan Scott (Curtice/Genoa) completed 10-of-24 passes for 168 yards and two TD. Freshman Jeff Watson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) led the ground attack with 53 yards on 11 carries.
The Yellow Jacket defense and special teams had another solid effort as junior Keandre Gilmer (Toledo/Rogers) had a team-high nine tackles (six solo and three assists), including a tackle for loss. The DC special teams blocked a punt which led to an offensive touchdown and later a field goal attempt, all in the first half.
Manchester (3-2, 3-1 HCAC) opened the scoring with a 60-yard pass play on its first possession of the game to lead early, 7-0. Following a three-and-out by Defiance (1-4, 1-2 HCAC), the Yellow Jackets would force the Spartans to punt on their ensuing drive. Freshman Beau Barkley (Fort Wayne, Ind./Churubusco) blocked the kick which was recovered by sophomore Alex Frick (Kendallville, Ind./East Knoble) and returned it to the Manchester nine yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Scott found Cody Wilson in the endzone to even the game at 7-7. Later in the quarter, the Spartans looked to regain the lead with a 20-yard field goal attempt, but this time, junior Kenny Jones (Toledo/Bowsher) got his hands on the ball to block the kick and keep the game even at 7-7. On Manchester's next drive, the Spartans capitalized on a 59-yard run to paydirt to regain the lead, 14-7 after the first quarter of play.
In the second quarter, the Spartans began to pull away scoring three times. Manchester scored on a 32-yard completion, a 65-yard punt return for TD, and on a three-yard scamper that was set up by an earlier Defiance interception. The 21 points were part of a 28-0 scoring run by the Spartans that began at the end of the first quarter and extended the margin to a commanding 35-7 advantage at the break.
Coming out of halftime, DC regained some momentum scoring on its first drive of the third quarter on a 31-yard hookup from Scott to Cody Wilson that capped an eight-play, 60-yard drive to make the score 35-14 with 10:45 to go in the period. Just before the end of the quarter, Manchester looked to add on to its lead driving to the DC one-yard line. But the Yellow Jacket defense shut the door by forcing a fumble, which was recovered by Barkley, giving DC more momentum heading into the fourth quarter.
Following the fumble recovery to end the third quarter, Manchester took the ball back with an interception on the third play of the Yellow Jacket drive and returned it to the one yard line. The Spartans then scored their final touchdown of the game on their first play from scrimmage to make it a 42-14 ball game. The final points of the game came on a one-yard TD run by Scott with 3:30 left to play as part of a nine-play, 59-yard drive that included a pair of key third-down plays to keep the drive going. But the deficit was took much to overcome for DC as Manchester went on to the 42-21 victory.
Manchester was led offensively by the trio of running back Hunter Hardee, quarterback Logan Haston and receiver Dakota Nelson. Hardee led all rushers with a game-high 107 yards on 17 carries and had two TD. Haston completed 20-of-27 passes for 283 yards and two TD. Nelson had a game-high 115 yards on seven receptions to go along with a TD. Defensively, Nathan Birk led the way with a game-high 12 tackles (10 solo and two assists) with a tackle for loss.
Defiance will travel to Terre Haute, Ind. next Saturday (Oct. 17) for a HCAC game against Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The game is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.