By Jerry Fekete
MAN — The Man High School football team defeated the rival Logan Wildcats 18-13 on Friday night at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field before a pack house in the first “Turf Bowl” game.
It marked a new era in Man football as it was the first ever game on Man’s new Field Turf.
The Hillbillies rose to the occasion with a hard fought win, led by four-year starting quarterback John Thomas Keffer and the Blue Funk defense led by Tanner Bailey.
Man (1-0), ranked No. 9 in the state in the Class A preseason poll, beat Triple-A Logan for the second straight year. The Billies won 32-26 in overtime on the road last year.
“It was a heck of a ballgame,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “Our kids played well. We made several mistakes, but the kids didn’t get down and fought back. Our defense played great. We were in their backfield most of the night. We had a bunch of sacks, two big interceptions and fumble recovery and our special teams played well. Jake Adkins had several long punts, Gabby Brown had that big return and our offense moved the ball well. John Thomas ran the ball and threw it well and our offensive line blocked well. Overalll the kids played well especially our defense and our special teams.”
Logan had success on offense with Matthew Cox but that was about it.
“Matthew Cox did everything for us to win both offensively and defensively but you can’t win with one threat,” Logan coach Gary Mullins said. “We came in and took the ball down the field at will on the first drive. We’ve got to get better in every aspect of the game. We had multiple chances to score, but they made the plays and that’s what matters. I thought our defense played well other than two plays. Our offense put us in bad situations tonight. We’ve now got to get ready for Shady Spring next week.”
Man deferred the opening kick to the second half and Logan took the opening kickoff and marched 60 yards in just seven plays, helped along by two offsides penalties by the Billies. It was capped off by a 2-yard TD jaunt by Cox at the 9:12 mark. Chris Watkins booted the PAT and Logan led 7-0.
Man got the football in good field position at its own 47 and moved the pigskin deep into Wildcat terriorty to the 24-yard line on several John Thomas Keffer passes to Ross Osborne and Matt Sanders but the Wildcats were able to stop the Billies’ drive on a fourth-and-11 play and took over on downs on their own 30.
Man’s defense then stepped up and held the Cats on downs at the 41-yard line, forcing a punt.
Brown then returned the ball all the way down to the Logan 10-yard line, setting up the Billies’ first score on a fourth-and-one as Keffer rushed in for a touchdown to cut the margin to 7-6 with 2:37 to play in the opening quarter. Keffer’s PAT kick was no good.
Man High School’s John Thomas Keffer scores on a QB sneak in Friday night’s 18-13 home win over Man (Video by Steven Browning)
The Billies later got the pigskin at their own 29-yard line to start the second stanza.
Man drove the ball deep into Logan territory before fumbling it away at Logan 20-yard line but the Billies’ defense once again forced the Wildcats to punt the football away as Man took over on its own 43-yard line.
Then on first down Keffer found Brown for a 59-yard pass and Brown took it to the house, giving the Billies a 12-7 advantage with 4:46 left in the first half. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
The Wildcats got the ball on their own 42 on their next drive but once again the Billies’ defense held off the Cats, led by Bailey, Jace Duba, Christian McCoy and Richie Nelson, forcing another punt.
Man took over with 2:30 to play in the first half and fumbled the ball as Logan recovered the ball at the Man 17-yard line. The Man defense once again held off Logan on four downs as the first half of play came to an end with the Billies clinging to a 12-7 lead at the intermission.
Man took the second half kickoff and started on its own 20-yard line but was forced to punt. Man’s Jake Adkins had a big punt to midfield as Logan started on its own 48-yard line.
After a 2-yard pass by quarterback Alex Toler and two incomplete passes the Cats had to punt the ball away.
Man, however, was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and was pinned back to its own 11-yard line and could not move the ball as the Cats held the Billies in check forcing another Adkins punt.
Adkins’ punt went for 50 yards and a holding penalty on Logan further pushed the ball back to the 32-yard line.
Man’s defense held again and forced yet another punt. Brown, however, muffed the punt and the Cats recovered at the Man 20-yard line.
Four plays later, Cox raced in for an 8-yard touchdown run to give Logan a slim 13-12 lead with 3:23 to play in the third quarter. The two-point conversion run failed.
Man took the ball at its own 32-yard line and the Wildcats’ defense forced the Billies into a three-and-out punt.
The Wildcats got the ball back on their own 39.
But on first down, the Cats coughed up the ball and Man’s Bailey recovered at the 35.
Then on third-and-four at the 4-yard line, with time running out in the quarter, Keffer ran in for a 4-yard TD run to make it 18-13 Billies.
The score put Man up for good and proved to be the final points of the night.
Logan started the fourth quarter on its own 31-yard line and chewed up nearly half the period moving the ball down to the Man 33.
But on second-and-12 Man’s Nelson came up big as he intercepted a Toler pass to halt the Logan drive as the Billies would take over on their own 33-yard line.
Just three plays later Man would fumble the ball over to the Wildcats giving Logan good field position at the Man 21 .
Devonte Tolliver was then thrown for a 5-yard loss. Then on second-and-15, Man’s Trey Whitt came up huge with an interception to give Man the ball at its own 29-yard line with just 3:25 to play in the game.
Man kept the ball on the ground, forcing Logan to use all three of its time outs.
The Billies were able to keep the ball and the clock moving and Keffer later took three knees to end the game.
Cox had 18 rushes for 124 yards and two TDs to lead Logan. Tolliver was held to nine rushes for 11 yards. Toler had two rushes for 20 yards. Devin Hensley had one carry for one yard.
Keffer had 15 rushes for 58 yards and two TDs for Man. Dustin McCoy had 38 yards rushing on six carries. Keffer also had the 58-yard TD pass to Brown and was 7-for-11 passing for 89 yards.
Man’s defense held Logan to just 130 yards of total offense. The Cats also turned it over three times. Man had 232 total yards on the night.
Toler was 4-for-14 passing for 28 yards and two picks. Toler had five carries for 14 yards. Tolliver was held to just three net yards on eight carries.
Jake Frye had eight rushing attempts for 36 yards. Duba was limited to nine rushes for 11 yards.
Cox had two catches for 14 yards for Logan. Jamal Minter had one catch for six yards. Skyler Miller had one grab for eight yards in his first game back for the Cats after battling leukemia the last couple of years.
Osborne had four catches for 27 yards to lead Man. Sanders had two catches for four yards. Brown had the one catch for the 58-yard TD grab.
Cox and Daniel Browning led Logan with eight tackles each on defense. Hensley had seven stops, while Minter had six tackles. Musco Adams, Tolliver and Hunter Vance had four tackles each. Cody Maynard, Chance Conn and Shawntez Matthews had three stops each. Tyler Browning, Trice Boatwright and Elijah Coleman had two tackles each.
Hensley and Daniel Browning each had a fumble caused. Daniel Browning, Tolliver and Minter each recovered a fumble.
Coleman and Daniel Browning had two special teams tackles apiece. Matthews, Chase Burnette and Augustine Noe had one each.
Burnette punted four times for Logan for a 34.5 average.
Bailey led the Man defense with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Duba had eight tackles, while Sanders, Tyler Blair and Nelson had seven tackles each. McCoy had six stops, Osborne five, Tyler Vance four and Buren Maynor three. Brown, Seth Osborne and Jordan Wright all had one each.
Man is scheduled to travel to Mount View this coming Friday night to take on the 1-0 Golden Knights. Logan heads to Shady Spring this week.
Logan QB Alex Toler is brought down by Man defenders. (Video by Steven Browning)
Man’s Ross Osborne returns a kick and also gets 15 more yards after a facemask penalty on Logan. (Video by Steven Browning)
Logan’s Matthew Cox gets a good gainer against the Billies. (Video by Steven Browning)
Man’s John Thomas Keffer runs with the ball. (Video by Steven Browning)
Ross Osborne runs with the ball after making a catch. (Video by Steven Browning)
The Billies’ Matt Sanders makes a catch and runs down field. (Video by Steven Browning)