When Manchester fumbled the opening kickoff in Friday night’s 34-17 Shore Conference Class B South victory over Point Pleasant Boro, the Hawks had to be thinking . . . here we go again.
Turnovers have had too much to do with the Hawks, now 1-5, losing their first five football games. In this battle of 0-5 teams, two Manchester turnovers led to 10 Point Boro points the first two times the Hawks had the ball.
This time, the Hawks rose to the occasion. Three times Manchester came from behind to take the lead. Senior quarterback Devin Tomei threw for two touchdowns, ran for one, and continually beat the Panthers defense on planned bootleg scrambles.
Senior running back Amani Richardson was held out for the first quarter, but raced 57 yards for a third-quarter score to put the Hawks up 10 points at 27-17.
But the play of this game belonged to senior captain Brian Golad. Point Boro led 17-14 at the half and was driving after receiving the second half kickoff. The Panthers reached the Hawks 28-yard line when they handed the ball to running back Kevin Kelly. Golad stripped the ball from Kelly and sprinted 57 yards down the field before Panthers quarterback Jack Fitzsimmons caught him from behind.
Twenty-three yards later, the Hawks would take the lead, 21-17, when Tomei hit Kashaun Barnes on a 12-yard touchdown strike.
“I saw (Kelly) sort of backwards and his arms were up,” Golad said. “I saw an open opportunity. I grabbed the ball and ran as far as I could. I thought I was going to make it. No one was in front of me.
“Our defense has been playing well but we needed this win.”
“Brian Golad’s play turned the game around for us,” Manchester coach Gerard O’Donnell said. “Our kids worked hard. Yes, it really does feel good to get this win. We made some halftime adjustments which worked well with Tomei.”
Point Boro led 10-0 behind Gene Franceschini’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Frey and Colin Ansbach’s 26-yard field goal.
Manchester drove 80 yards with Tomei hitting Dustin Wagner on a 3-yard touchdown pass to close to 10-7. Tomei’s 3-yard run put the Hawks on top, 14-10, early in the second stanza.
Point Boro responded with a 7-play, 70-yard drive. Fitzsimmons ran three times for 58 yards, including the final two for the score and a 17-14 lead at the half.
Then Golad’s play put the Hawks in front in the third quarter and gave Manchester the victory despite the fact it had more turnovers, 3-2.
The Hawks put the game away with a 10-play, 50-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter. Richardson ran six times, Tomei converted a big fourth down on a 15-yard bootleg run, and Shaquille Benjamin ran it in from five yards out.