MAN — Two plays really made the difference in last Saturday afternoon’s 21-16 Class A playoff loss by the Man High School football team to Bishop Donahue.
Man’s rally ended up coming up short but the Hillbillies closed out a successful season at 9-2.
The Billies ended its string of three straight losing seasons and got itself back into the post-season.
“We played hard and didn’t quit,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “Sure it’s going to hurt but we got to deal with hurt. We just didn’t make the play when we needed to. We played hard and we played well but not good enough.”
Bishop Donahue (8-3) struck with an 88-yard TD pass from QB Jesse Padlow to Jared Yates in the first quarter. The Bishops then went into the half up 15-0 after another TD pass from Padlow.
Bishop made it 21-0 in the third quarter with another bomb — this one to Yates covering 80 yards.
Padlow threw for 353 yards for the game, completing 16-of-28 passes. Yates had five grabs for 179 yards and two scores. Chaice Truex had seven catches for 129 yards.
“That big bomb in the first and third was a killer,” Arms said. “Take that away and we win the game. I told them in the locker room at the half that if we could score 16 we could win the game but they got that big TD pass.”
Man ended up putting 16 points on the board in the fourth quarter with a 12-yard scramble and run for a touchdown by sophomore quarterback John Thomas Keffer and a 48-yard Keffer-to-Braden Griffin TD pass. The Billies converted on both two-point conversions but it was not enough.
Bishop Donahue coach John Durdines was happy with the win but also had praise for Man.
“It’s a great win,” he said. “Our kids hung in there and they never quit. You have to give Man a lot of credit. They were battling all the way up to the final buzzer. What a great win. I’m so happy for them. They worked their butts off.”
Man’s ground game was held to only 61 yards rushing in the first half. Junior fullback Neil Mullins had some good runs and had 42 of those yards.
“All year long that’s been our best offensive weapon,” Arms said of Mullins. “He runs the ball hard up the gut. But when we get behind, we can’t score fast. And then when we got behind two (scores), that makes it worse.”
The Bishops’ second score went for 17 yards from Padlow to Matt Vucelik.
Man cut it to 21-8 in the third with the Keffer keeper and his pass to Cayce Mullins on the two-point conversion.
It was suddenly 21-16 after the pass to Griffin and another successful two-point conversion.
Bishop Donahue drove the ball late in the fourth but turned it over on downs at the Man 5-yard line.
The Billies had 95 yards to go to get the win but only 25 seconds left on the clock.
Keffer found Tracy Jones for a couple of completions but was sacked on the last play of the game.
The Bishops will travel to take on No. 4 Williamstown this weekend in the second round of the Class A playoffs.
Man finished the game with 164 yards rushing on 40 carries. Mullins had 16 rushes for 74 yards. Griffin had seven totes for 20 yards. Keffer had four rushes for 36 yards.
Keffer was 15-for-29 passing for 146 yards.
Cayce Mullins had six catches for 35 yards. Jones reeled in seven passes for 93 yards.
The Bishops were penalized 11 times for 75 yards. Man had eight yellow hankies for 48 yards.
Saturday’s playoff appearance was the fifth for Man in the 12-year tenure of Coach Arms and the last game for Man’s 18 senior players.