Jaelin Carter was ready to go searching for Odell Beckham Jr. on Twitter. After all, the Manual High School junior wide receiver had made an amazing one-handed touchdown catch to rival the one by the New York Giants star last season against the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’m going to have to tag Odell and see if he responds,” Carter said.
His team’s offense struggling through three early turnovers, Carter’s one-handed grab of a pass from T.J. Comstock got the Crimsons on the board late in the first half and keyed a 28-10 victory over visiting Central on Friday in the season opener for both teams.
“That’s ESPN all day long,” Manual coach Oliver Lucas said. “It was a great, great catch.”
Manual – ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 6-A – dominated the rest of the way and improved to 8-1 against Central over the past nine seasons.
Central – ranked No. 2 in Class 3-A – committed four turnovers and managed just seven first downs.
“We could not get our offense working,” Yellowjackets coach Ty Scroggins said. “We had our opportunities to beat them, but you have to play four quarters of football. We didn’t lay down, but our defense was on the field way too much.”
The defense was the only bright spot for Central and led the Yellowjackets to an early 10-0 lead.
After Carter caught a Comstock pass and then fumbled it, Central linebacker Aaron Duncan scooped up the loose ball and went 25 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than 2 minutes into the first quarter.
A Sebastian Francisco 22-yard field goal made it 10-0 with 1:55 left in the first quarter, and Central had a chance to add on after Comstock was intercepted by Elijah Owens.
But the Manual defense held, and its offense finally got going. Comstock hit Carter for a 41-yard gain to the Central 23, and five plays later Comstock lobbed a pass to the back-right corner of the end zone. Carter reached up and snagged the ball one-handed over Central defender Quincy Baines.
“When (Comstock) throws it up he just tells me to go get it for my team,” Carter said. “I have to go get it for my team.”
Was it the best catch of Carter’s career?
“Best one ever,” he replied.
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Central’s TeaWonn Ligon fumbled on the first play of the second half, and Manual’s John Sneed recovered at the Yellowjackets’ 16-yard line. Five players later Comstock found Eric Niemann for a 10-yard touchdown pass and a 14-10 lead at the 10:27 mark of the third quarter.
Manual put it away on the ground, as Troy Henderson had a 4-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter and Reece West added a 5-yard TD run with 3:18 left in the fourth.
Henderson (nine carries, 99 yards), West (19 carries, 83 yards) and Andre Teague (nine carries, 41 yards) all had big games on the ground.
“There’s thunder and there’s lightning and there’s a little bit of a slasher in there as well,” Lucas said. “It’s a great mixture.”
Comstock finished 13 of 24 for 166 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Central senior TeaWonn Ligon rushed for 64 yards on nine carries.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.
C – Aaron Duncan 25 fumble return (Sebastian Francisco kick); C – Francisco 22 FG; M – Jaelin Carter 11 pass from T.J. Comstock (Nick Kopp kick); M – Eric Niemann 10 pass from Comstock (Kopp kick); M – Troy Henderson 4 run (Kopp kick); M – Reece West 5 run (Kopp kick).