MANHATTAN — After taking a three touchdown lead in the first quarter, things got a little dicey for Manhattan Friday night.
No. 7-ranked Townsend battled back to get within a touchdown early in the second half. But it did little to phase the No. 4-ranked Tigers, who scored twice in the fourth quarter en route to a 34-14 Southern B win.
Manhattan (7-0, 5-0 Southern B) denied the Bulldogs an opportunity to secure the conference title, and can claim it itself next week with a victory in Boulder against Jefferson.
“If Townsend would have won they could have clinched the conference,” Manhattan coach Chris Grabowska noted. “We just kind of came in with the mentality that if they wanted to win the conference they got to come through us, and our kids were ready. They came out firing on all cylinders.”
The Tigers received the opening kick off and then needed just three plays to reach the end zone. After crossing midfield on a long run, Lane Veltkamp threw a short pass to Kyle Hotvedt, who turned it into a 35-yard score.
On Manhattan’s second possession, following a couple of first downs, Grabowska called the same play that had resulted in the early touchdown. Hotvedt gathered in another short pass and scored on a 54-yard catch.
“We saw something on film and they showed it in the game. Their corners were kind of playing off, so we just have a little route that Kyle gets the ball and he’s able to have time to make a move,” said Grabowska. “Kyle made a couple moves and he broke a couple long ones. He’s that kind of athlete. You give him the ball in space and he can do something with it.”
Hotvedt had a big first half, catching four passes for 119 yards. The senior also picked off a pass defensively, which led to a 2-yard Garrit Weeda touchdown run and a 21-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Townsend (5-2, 4-1 Southern B) cut into the deficit shortly before halftime when Trey Hoveland threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Zach Idland. Then the Bulldogs received the second half kick off and marched 63 yards in seven plays to get within seven when Gavin Vandenacre caught a 15-yard touchdown pass.
The Tigers drove inside Townsend’s 10 on their ensuing possession, but Veltkamp was picked off in the end zone on fourth down to end the drive. But after forcing a punt, the offense strung together another long drive capped by a 7-run touchdown run from Weeda.
Fred Livezey picked off Hoveland on the next offensive play, and then Manhattan put the contest out of reach when Gabriel Delgatty outleaped two defenders in the end zone to score on a 20-yard reception with less than three remaining.
“The last touchdown at the end that put the game out of reach was a great throw and catch,” said Grabowska. “The kids stepped up and made plays tonight.”
Veltkamp, who returned to action after sitting out last week with a knee injury, completed 11 of 17 passes for 179 yards and three scores.
“He came out and just commanded the offense really well. He wasn’t able to run as much as he’d like, but he got the game done with his arm and he relied on the players around him to get the job done,” said Grabowska. “So that was really good to see.”
Manhattan 34, Townsend 14
Townsend 0 6 8 0 - 14
Manhattan 21 0 0 13 - 34
Man - Kyle Hotvedt 35 pass from Lane Veltkamp (kick failed), 11:29
Man - Hotvedt 54 pass from Veltkamp (Isaac Richardson run), 3:43
Man - Garrit Weeda 2 run (Jose Molina kick), 1:23
Tow - Zach Idland 22 pass from Trey Hoveland (kick failed), 1:18
Tow - Gavin Vandenacre 15 pass from Hoveland (Dawson Sweat pass from Hoveland), 8:43
Man - Weeda 7 run (Molina kick), 10:59
Man - Gabriel Delgatty 20 pass from Veltkamp (Molina kick), 2:44