HCAC, home opener on Black and Gold docket

The four-game home portion of Manchester University’s 2017 schedule gets underway at Carl W. Burt Memorial Field Saturday, Sept. 23.

Game Details: Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. … Live audio, stats and video are available via links at www.muspartans.com, the Internet home of Manchester University athletics with a radio broadcast also available at WJOT-FM, 105.9, Wabash. You can tune in online to the 105.9 FM broadcast at https://tunein.com/radio/The-Bash-1059-s29950/… The Spartans sport a 1-1 record going into their home and Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener. The Lions bring a 1-2 overall and 0-1 HCAC mark into the contest … Mt. St. Joseph holds a 16-5 lead all-time against the Black and Gold with MU’s most recent victory occurring in the previous meeting at Burt Field in 2015. Close-knit encounters have been the trend recently with four of the last seven contests decided by 14 points or less.

Spartan Shorts: Just two games into the campaign, Coach Nate Jensen’s squad is getting noticed on the league’s statistical roll. Sophomore running back Donovan Henderson, Jr.(Hollywood, Fla.) is fourth in rushing yards per game (57), and senior linebacker Jack Kay‘s (Williamsport, Ind.) ten tackles per contest are third-best. Looking further, Henderson is also tied for third in rushing touchdowns (two), and sophomore defensive back De’Lon Barnes‘ (Los Angeles, Calif.) nine tackles a game are tied for fourth. Junior defensive back Austin Coughlin (Fairland, Ind.) and junior linebacker Quantae Miller (Dayton, Ohio) are two of only 21 players with interceptions to date, and Barnes is one of just 14 with a fumble recovery … The Spartans take to the field for the first time since a thrilling 33-31 come-from-behind win at Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association foe Alma College Sept. 9. Statistical heroes were many for MU that evening. Henderson’s 20 carries for 76 and two touchdowns led the ground game; sophomore quarterback Alex Downard (Indianapolis, Ind.) was a solid 15-of-22 for 186 yards and a touchdown through the air and also rushed for a score; senior wide receiver Dakota Nelson (Fairland, Ind.) was his favorite target with seven catches for 80 yards and also supplied the second half igniting kickoff return for a touchdown; Kay was back to his old tricks of finding himself bringing down an opposing offensive player with a unit-best 11 tackles; and senior defensive back Mitch Oskam (St. John, Ind.) and Miller each tallied an interception with Oskam’s killing a late Scots’ drive to preserve the victory, and Barnes recovered a fumble and tallied nine tackles … While the memories of the victory in central Michigan are still fresh, Jensen and his staff understand the urgency needed going into league play. “The first two games were a measuring stick to see who we are as a team,” he noted. “This week now begins the important part. You can go unbeaten in non-league play and not do anything in conference … you stay home during the postseason. With that in mind and the goals this team set, it’s all about focusing one week at a time from this point forward. We have some confidence behind us (after the Alma win), and the guys understand how much work it takes to get (to that point).”

Looking Ahead: MU goes back on the road for games at preseason favorite and perennial conference standout Franklin College Saturday, Sept. 30, and Defiance College Saturday, Oct. 6. They return home Saturday, Oct. 13, to face off against Rose-Hulman to highlight 2017 Homecoming festivities.

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