While the defense for the Defiance College Yellow Jackets took a step forward, the offense is still a work in progress and that showed Saturday, as the Jackets fell to visiting Manchester 19-0 to drop to 0-9 on the season.
Of the 19 points, the defense was on the field for a field goal and a late score by the Spartans.
“There was just so many plays that they made,” Defiance coach Manny Matsakis said of the defensive unit. “They did a good job stopping a very good run game. Our defensive guys played their best game of the year on that side of the ball.”
The Defiance defense also stopped Manchester on fourth down four times. The first one came after the Spartans drove to the Defiance 1 in the opening quarter. However, when the Yellow Jackets took over on offense, Machari Bighams was dropped in the end zone on a sweep and Manchester took the lead on a safety.
Manchester added a touchdown late in the half on a deflected pass. Once again, it came after the Yellow Jacket defense made a big play. One play after Michael Myers came up with an interception, Willis Sands took a deflected pass 15 yards for a score.
Myers had an interception, two pass breakups and forced a fumble before leaving the game with an injury.
“I hope he’s okay,” Matsakis said of the freshman defensive back. “I don’t know what happened to him. Looked like an elbow in a cast.”
The Spartans closed the half by having a 38-yard field goal hit the upright and fall through for a 12-0 lead.
Donavan Henderson, who ran for 216 yards, scored from 14 yards out with 8:03 to go in the third quarter to push the lead to 19-0. Manchester was given a short field after Defiance went for it on fourth down for their own 29 and came up short.
After going with Cole Recker, Jayelin Luke and Kardierre Love at quarterback in the first half, Defiance settled on Reggie Washington in the second half. Washington responded by going 9 of 21 in the air for 100 yards with two interceptions. He also added 18 yards rushing.
“It took until halftime until we decided to put Reggie back in at quarterback,” admitted Matsakis. “Had we done that...you see we were moving the ball in the second half. We needed to do that. We’ll go into the Bluffton game with him as our starting quarterback.”
Both of the interceptions came in the end zone after Washington steered time-consuming drives.
Brandon Beckford also played well in the second half in the running back position. He ended the day with 53 yards on the ground, plus led the team with four receptions for 30 yards.
“Another freshman we haven’t talked about all year,” Matsakis said of Beckford. “We’ve got guys with speed that are working to get better. It’s exciting. We just have to take another step forward this week.”
Special teams also got better for the Yellow Jackets. Defiance blocked both a punt and field goal, and punter Bryce Cooley (Montpelier) averaged 37.9 yards on eight punts.
“Greatly improved kicking game, greatly improved defense,” Matsakis said of the effort. “Now its on the offense to step up.”
Defiance (0-9, 0-6 HCAC) closes the season at home against rival Bluffton.
First Downs 15 12
Rush-Yds 51-253 31-76
Pass Yds 93 105
Total Yds 346 181
Passing 10-25-1 10-34-3
Fum-Lost 3-1 1-1
Penalties 2-15 2-20
Manchester 2 10 7 0 – 19
Defiance 0 0 0 0 – 0
M – Safety, tackle in endzone.
M – Sands 15-interception return (Kibler kick).
M – Kibler 38-field goal.
M – Henderson 14-run (Kibler kick).
RUSHING: Manchester – Henderson 31-216; Smith 14-35; Ward 1-8; Downard 5-(-6). Defiance – Beckford 10-53; Washington 4-18; Wilkins 3-16; Thompson 4-9; Bighams 3-6; Caballero 2-3; Luke 1-(-3); Recker 1-(-8); Love 3-(-18). PASSING: Manchester – Downard 10-25-93-1. Defiance – Washington 9-21-100-2; Love 1-3-5-1; Recker 0-9-0-0; Luke 0-1-0-0. RECEIVING: Manchester – Antoine 5-61; Lathrop 2-21; Henderson 2-8; Peterson 1-3. Defiance – Beckford 4-30; Santora 2-26; Shaheed 2-25; Geiger 1-19; Mcnary 1-5.