Spartans side-stepped in league road opener

TERRE HAUTE, IND. – The proverbial piece of paper couldn’t even have been put between Manchester University and Rose-Hulman Saturday, Sept. 22.

A quick glance at the statistics tells the tale of how close things were at Rose-Hulman’s Cook Stadium. MU, despite falling to 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference with a nip-and-tuck 19-12 defeat at the hands of the Fightin’ Engineers, had one more first down (17-16), held a 26-yard edge in total offense (293-257), out-rushed their hosts by 40 yards (179-139) and were just four yards behind them through the air (118-114). The final outcome proved to be determined in the turnover category, though, An opportunistic home defense picked off five passing attempts from the Black and Gold, one of which occurred in their end zone as the clock expired, to preserve the narrow victory.

Junior running back Donovan Henderson, Jr., (Hollywood, Fla.) continued to prove himself as one of the conference’s and region’s best on a perfect fall evening. He carried the ball a workhorse-like 31 times for 149 yards, totaling his third successive 100-yard-plus total, and scoring a touchdown. Freshman signal caller Bryce Tomasi (Mishawaka, Ind.) added the other Black and Gold points, sneaking the ball in from two yards out.

Freshman linebacker Willis Sands (Miramar, Fla.) lifted a defense that kept the scoreboard deficit close throughout. He registered nine tackles and was followed closely in the category by senior defensive back Dillon Nelson (Fairland, Ind.) (eight). MU’s “D” also collected sacks from senior defensive lineman Jacob Cooper (Fairland, Ind.) and junior linebacker Justin Thomas (Lowell, Ind.), turned in five tackles for losses and registered a fumble recovery (freshman defensive back Javon Gary of Hialeah, Fla.) and interception (Sands).

The Spartans return to Carl W. Burt Memorial Field Saturday, Sept. 29. It’s Homecoming 2018, as Earlham College comes to North Manchester for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.

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