The defense was smothering and the offense was nearly unstoppable Saturday afternoon as Manhattan cruised to victory in the first round of the Class B playoffs.
Led by four touchdown passes from Caden Holgate, and a pair of special team scores, the Tigers routed Colstrip 52-0.
“I thought we dominated in all three phases of the game today,” Manhattan coach Chris Grabowska said.
Manhattan advances to the quarterfinals for a sixth consecutive year and will host Malta next Saturday. The Mustangs rushed for more than 300 yards in a 30-14 first round victory against Bigfork.
“They’re a big physical team. They like to run the ball and run a lot of play action pass,” said Grabowska. “We’re going to have to have, obviously, a great week of preparation, and defense (will) be up for another challenge stopping their run game. They’re a good team.”
The Tigers (9-0) scored on their first seven possessions of the game, including a pair of long drives in the first half. Holgate completed third down throws to Gabriel Delgatty and Corban Johnson to keep the first drive alive, and then Isaac Richardson scored the first points of the game on a 4-yard run.
Holgate also completed a third down pass to Johnson on the team’s second possession, which led to a 24-yard touchdown catch by Tate Bowler.
“I think a couple times our receivers adjusted their routes a little bit. Just did a good job of finding the hole in the defense,” said Grabowska. “Caden was able to keep the play alive with his feet, and he just made some great plays to keep the drive alive.”
After Johnson scored on an 11-yard reception with 5:52 remaining in the half, the Tigers got the ball back and faced a fourth-and-21 from their own 46 following a snap that sailed over the head of Holgate. Manhattan lined up for a punt, but a short snap went to Toby Veltkamp, who scampered untouched for a 54-yard score.
Knowing the Colts were coming hard for a punt block late in the half, Grabowska felt it was the perfect opportunity to run the trick play.
“They were showing block, so we ran it and we were able to convert it into a touchdown,” he said. “If it didn’t work out I guess we were going to rely on our defense to get another stop before the half.”
The Tigers’ defense was simply outstanding en route to posting its fourth shut out of the season. The unit allowed just one first down in the contest and picked off a pass. Colstrip’s longest play of the game was a 10-yard scramble in the first half by quarterback Shaye Wilkie.
“That’s what we expected out of our defense,” said Grabowska. “They had a great week of preparation. They knew what they were going to be doing on the offensive side of the ball, so just went out and executed the game play really well.”
Any chance the Colts had of a rally were dashed on the second half kickoff when Bowler returned it 75-yard for a score. Holgate added touchdown passes of 32 and 2 yards to Johnson and Delgatty, respectively, and Richardson capped the scoring with a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Manhattan 52, Colstrip 0
Colstrip 0 0 0 0 - 0
Manhattan 7 19 19 7 - 52
Man - Isaac Richardson 4 run (Drew Deming kick)
Man - Tate Bowler 24 pass from Caden Holgate (Deming kick)
Man - Corban Johnson 11 pass from Holgate (kick blocked)
Man - Toby Veltkamp 54 run (pass failed)
Man - Bowler 75 kickoff return (kick blocked)
Man - Johnson 32 pass from Holgate (kick failed)
Man - Gabriel Delgatty 2 pass from Holgate (Deming kick)
Man - Richardson 2 run (Deming kick)