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Manning holds off Bishop England to capture 7-AAA championship on the road 27-24

Daniel Island – Manning head coach Reggie Kennedy saw his team’s 18-point lead shrink to just three at 27-24 with 6:25 to go in the fourth quarter, so he called on his road grading offense line to pave the way for his team’s version of “Thunder and Lightning” and they responded by running ball right at a tired Bishop England defense to win the region 7-AAA championship.

“Our kids refused to lose. We have been in a lot of tough ball games early and it helped us today,” said coach Kennedy. “We knew they had a lot of kids going both ways and we wanted to wear them down.”

The Monarchs rushed for over 400 yards on the night with Aaron “Lighting” Smith and Caleb “Thunder” Wright leading the way with 204 and 188 yards respectively. Each scored a rushing touchdown and Smith also had a receiving touchdown.

The win by Manning (7-3, 5-0) assured the Monarchs that the road in the class AAA lower state play-offs runs through Manning.

“This was a big win for us and as long as we keep winning, we will be home for the play-offs. We have played well at home all year,” coach Kennedy said.

For Bishop England (6-3/4-1), they will be home next week with the runner-up finish in the region.

"This was a tough loss after coming back. We came up just a little short,” said Bishop England head coach John Cantey. “We will be excited and ready to play next week.”

The Batting Bishops took a 3-0 lead when Nick Defazio nailed a 24-yard field goal at the start of the second quarter. Quarterback Cam Costa was 4-5 through the air for 39 yards on the drive.

The Monarchs would take the lead for good two possession later when Wright scored from the three for a 7-3 lead. The big play of the drive was 31-yard run by Smith.

Smith would push the lead to 21-3 when he scored on a 20-yard run and then on a two-yard pass from quarterback Justin Daniels with six second to go in the half. Smith and Wright both rushed for over 100 yards in the first half.

Manning came out in the third quarter and continued to run ball effectively and moved inside the Bishop England 30-yard when Smith fumbled, and it was recovered by the Bishops Jarren McCoy.

The recovery sparked the Bishops offense as they went 77 yard in 8 plays to score their first touchdown when Costa found Sullivan Clair on an 11-yard scoring toss. The score cut the Manning lead to 21-10.

The Monarchs would increase their lead to 17 at 27-10 when Daniels scored on a keeper with 1:25 to go in the third quarter.

The Bishops would answer right away as they went 74 yards in six plays to cut the lead to 10 at 27-17 when Costa hit Michael Long on a wheel route from 19 yards out.

The Bishops then surprised the Monarchs with an onside kick that was recovered at the Manning 49.

From there the Bishops moved down the field into the end zone in just a minute and 3 seconds when Costa hit Clair again from the 7 and suddenly the lead was three at 27-24. On the night Costa was 20-34 for 241 yards and three scores.

The Bishops Robert Mallard recovered a squib kick that Manning mishandled at the Manning 46 and all the momentum was on the Bishops side. They drove inside the Monarch’s 10-yardline when disasters struck.

The Bishop’s Long was fighting for extra yardage when he was hit and fumbled the ball which Manning’s Smith recovered at the 10. Long rushed 99 yards on the evening.

“Michael played a great game and that was just one of those unfortunate things. He is a fighter and was trying to get the extra yards,” said coach Cantey.

Two series later the Monarchs went on the region clinching drive.

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