MANHATTAN — There will be no three-peat. Manhattan made sure of it Saturday afternoon.
Michael Nehring threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for two more scores to lead the Tigers to a 33-6 rout of two-time defending Class B champion Lincoln County in a first round playoff game.
The victory avenged a quarterfinal loss from a year ago when the Lions shut out Manhattan en route winning the championship. The Tigers dominated the rematch led by Nehring and a stingy defense.
“I thought our defense played outstanding. Going into the game we knew we had to stop the run and we did that,” Manhattan coach Chris Grabowska said. “We knew they had a mobile quarterback and I thought we did a great job of containing him.”
The Tigers (6-3) , who extended their win streak to six, will travel to Fairfield next Saturday for a quarterfinal game. The unbeaten Eagles (9-0) shut out Red Lodge, 40-0, Saturday.
“They’re a tough team, they’ve got a great program, and they’re good every year. It’s another team that has a winning culture,” said Grabowska. “But the same was true of Eureka. They’re the two-time defending state champs. They know how to win and our boys aren’t really phased by anybody or anything.”
Manhattan’s defense hounded Hank Dunn throughout the contest. The junior quarterback completed just 11-of-26 passes for 167 yards and was picked off three times, including a pick-six in the fourth quarter.
But it was Manhattan’s offense that set the tone after driving 75 yards for a score after receiving the opening kick off. Clay Johnson capped it with a 7-yard reception, and then Nehring scored on a 2-yard run on the team’s third possession to extend the lead to 12-0.
Nehring finished with 63 yards rushing, while Johnson had 60, but it was the passing game that kept the Lions off balance. The senior completed 11 passes to five different receivers for 134 yards.
“We’ve kind of morphed more into a run team and we knew they were going to try and stack the box. So we just decided, ‘Ya know, hey why not just take some chances in the air.’ We did that and we got them to back off a little bit.”
The Tigers extended the lead to 18-0 in the third quarter on a 7-yard catch by David Aamot, and then Garritt Weeda returned an interception 25 yards for a score early in the fourth to make it 26-0.
Lincoln County (6-3) avoided a shut out when Terell Helgert scored on a short touchdown catch with a little over two minutes remaining. By then, however, Nehring had stretched the lead to 33-0 on his second touchdown run.
“We had some good drives and we converted plays when we had to,” said Grabowska. “It was a tougher defense than we’ve seen in a good while and I thought the boys responded really well. They made plays on offense when they had to.”
Manhattan 33, Lincoln County 6
Lincoln County 0 0 0 6 - 6
Manhattan 12 0 6 15 - 33
Man - Clay Johnson 7 pass from Michael Nehring (kick failed)
Man - Nehring 2 run (pass failed)
Man - David Aamot 7 pass from Nehring (pass failed)
Man - Garritt Weeda 25 interception return (Johnson pass from Nehring)
Man - Nehring 7 run (Dalton Mitchell kick)
LC - Terell Helgert 7 pass from Hank Dunn (pass failed)