As much fun as his players had this week, Manhattan head coach Chris Grabowska was stressed.
He wanted to make sure the Tigers were focused. And early on Friday night, they didn’t appear to be.
They put together a short drive to start their homecoming game against Columbus, but penalties led to a punt. And even with Columbus back in its own territory, Manhattan gave up a long touchdown pass on its first play on defense to face an early deficit.
But the Tigers honed in from that point on. They took care of Columbus 40-20 in a Southern B matchup on Friday night for a homecoming victory.
“They showed some great mental toughness,” Grabowska said. “Offensively, we drove the ball all night. And defensively, we stepped it up and made some adjustments and got the job done.”
That was the first time the Tigers have trailed all season. Still, they responded.
The Tigers held Columbus to minus-1 rushing yard for the contest, Grabowska estimated, forcing their opponent to become one-dimensional.
“I’m really proud of our defense for buckling down and executing their assignments,” Grabowska said. “Overall, I thought out kids battled really hard, were really resilient and gritty.
“I guess we just started out a little bit slow, and we buckled down and got the job done when it mattered most.”
The Tigers (5-0, 3-0) have thrived thus far this season and bounced back to tally 571 yards of offense in the contest. They started the season off with a 54-14 victory over Florence, and now they are averaging 41.8 points per contest through five games.
And that number is boosted by Friday’s performance.
“Lane Veltkamp did a great job of throwing the ball,” Grabowska said. “The receivers made some great catches, and that was great to see our passing game open up a little bit too. It shows we’re more than just a run team. We’re multi-dimensional.”
Veltkamp finished 19 of 26 in the air for 258 yards and pair of touchdown passes and also rushed for 146 yards and a pair of scores.
Garrit Weeda added 140 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, and Kyle Hotvedt had six receptions for 92 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Tigers have been stout. They’ve shut out two of their five opponents and haven’t allowed more than 14 points other than Friday. They’ve allowed 9.6 points per game thus far.
Grabowska is happy the Tigers made good memories this week. But he’s already planning for film study on Monday.
“There’s always something to get better at,” Grabowska said. “That’s what we’ve been preaching all year is we’ve got to keep climbing the mountain. Next week is going to be no different.”
Manhattan 40, Columbus 20
Columbus n/a n/a na n/a - 20
Manhattan n/a n/a na n/a - 40
Manhattan scoring plays
Man - Lane Veltkamp 1 run (kick failed)
Man - Veltkamp 1 run (kick blocked)
Man - Gabriel Delgatty 20 pass from Veltkamp (pass failed)
Man - Garrit Weeda 8 run (Veltkamp run)
Man - Weeda 5 run (Jose Molina kick)
Man - Kyle Hotvedt 12 pass from Veltkamp (Molina kick)