POWHATAN – On the first play of the game, Anthony Greenhow showed why he’s among the fastest runners in the state.
The track and field standout and third-place finisher in last year’s Class 4 state boys 100m dash jetted 86 yards to the end zone with the opening kickoff in-hand to give his Powhatan Indians the first lead of the night.
But the hosting Manchester Lancers took command from there, unleashing their athleticism to tally up 42 unanswered points en route to defeating Powhatan (3-5) 56-21.
It’s the second straight week Powhatan has allowed 55 or more points after taking a 55-28 setback to another Dominion District powerhouse in fellow Class 4 team Monacan (7-1), but the Indians are also among four of eight teams to score 21 or more points against Manchester (7-1), the most recent Class 6 state champions.
“I told the team at the end: We don’t really want to take moral victories away from this – we’re here to win football games,” Powhatan Football head coach Mike Henderson said after the game. “But we are playing hard, we are getting better. We’re learning what it’s like to be in the Dominion District, so if you look at the big picture, we’re a much better football team now than we were on Aug. 1. We’re playing faster, we’re playing better. Our young guys are learning what it’s like to play high school football at the highest level, so I’m proud of that. But at some point, we just have to execute a little better and play a little bit better so these games aren’t 56-21.”
Henderson noted that the Lancers are a “terrific football team…they were beating [four-time defending state champions and still-unbeaten] Highland Springs 16-0 at halftime two weeks ago, so they’re really good. But our guys, I think we can be pretty good, too, so it’s showing them what we need to get to, where we need to be, and it’s part of it.”
After Greenhow returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, the Lancers tied the game at 7-7, then shortened up their kicks to mostly keep the ball away from Greenhow and worked to stop Powhatan on the shorter-field possessions. The home team forced two punts and a turnover on downs at their own 41 and also got credited with a fumble recovery at its own 11 to set up Manchester’s next four scoring drives in the first half.
Isaiah Todd punched in the Lancers’ first two touchdowns – the first a two-yard score on the heels of Roemell Garcia’s 26 yard pass to Deonte Hill, the second a goal-line run after he and Garcia carved up chunks of rushing yardage in the Lancers’ 59-yard go-ahead drive – before Shamar Figueroa provided an insurance score in the form of a scorching 77-yard punt return.
But despite Figueroa’s big play, Henderson noted that special teams has been better for Powhatan the last couple of weeks – the Indians are still kicking the ball where they want, their coverage is better, they had the big return by Greenhow and overall they’re punting well.
Greenhow also continued to showcase his athleticism beyond the kick return. After Manchester went on its 42-point run, he caught a short pass from junior quarterback Aaron Nash that he raced 56 yards to the house for his second touchdown of the night.
“He’s doing some good things – we’re trying to find ways to utilize him,” Henderson said of Greenhow. “It’s taking a little bit of time, but we’re getting there, too, so that’s another improvement.”
Greenhow made 3 catches for 69 yards, and his teammate Nate Moyer racked up 8 catches for 116 receiving yards. Moyer in the fourth quarter jumped and danced his way to the Lancers’ 13 on three straight catches of 30, 22 and 13 yards from Nash. From there, Nash fired his fourth straight completion – a 13-yard dart – to Fisher Hamersley, who then crossed the goal line to briefly whittle the Lancers’ lead down to 21 before Manchester pulled away again on consecutive scores.
Nash showcased his continued improvement in the pocket by completing 8 of 13 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore QB Hans Rehme passed for 71 yards and ran for 51, and running back Mitchell Johnson continued to string together some tough gains in the ground game.
“He’s picked up some key first downs – he’s a sophomore, he’s getting better every week,” Henderson said of Johnson. “He’s running super hard – he’s run super hard all year long, that’s not any different – but he’s just finding holes now…and his vision is much better, so we’re super happy with the way he’s progressing. We really are.”
Defensively for Powhatan, Chase Gayness made 9 tackles including 6 solo efforts, Wyatt Lowe had 7 and TJ Gates and Tristen Bradley each made 6, with Gates getting one tackle for a loss.
As Powhatan returns home next Friday, Nov. 1, to host James River (1-7) on the Indians’ Senior Night, Henderson said they should be getting back a couple of players who were sidelined by injury. Two of their fastest players, starting cornerback Josh Jordan and starting safety Jaysun Carroll, did not play against Manchester.
“We should be healthier than we were tonight,” Henderson said.
Game time against the Rapids is 7:30 p.m.
POW - Greenhow 86 Punt Return (Pinnell kick)
MAN - Todd 2 run (Domazos kick)
MAN - Todd 1 run (Domazos kick)
MAN - Figueroa 77 Punt Return (Domazos kick)
MAN - Kelly 48 pass from Garcia (Domazos kick)
MAN - Hill 9 pass from Garcia (Domazos kick)
MAN - Todd 36 pass from Shelton (Endries kick)
POW - Greenhow 56 pass from Nash (Pinnell kick)
POW - Hamersley 13 pass from Nash (Pinnell kick)
MAN - Hill 37 pass from Garcia (Endries kick)
MAN - Griles Fumble Return (Endries kick)