STORY BY: JORDAN MESEROLE
MANOR – Halftime hasn’t been good to the Rudder Rangers this season.
Manor scored 41 points in the second half Friday night to upend the Rangers 61-31 in Manor, the third time this season Rudder has gone into the locker room with a lead at half only to squander it.
The fifth consecutive loss – and sixth when including a tie – by the Rangers (1-5-1, 0-3) also put any playoff hopes in district 16-4A pretty much out of reach.
Things started out quick for Manor (4-4, 3-1) as the team jumped out to an early lead on its first possession of the game, scoring on a 26-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jacorey McQueen to junior receiver Reginald Middleton.
And then Rudder’s offense came alive.
Rudder jumped onto the scoreboard on its first possession of the second quarter, scoring on an 8-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jamarcus Davenport to sophomore receiver Mark Davenport.
Senior linebacker Kenjuan Kelley would give the ball right back to the Rudder offense after intercepting an errant pass by McQueen. Two plays later, the Rangers would find the end zone again on a 7-yard touchdown run by junior running back Anthony Veal, putting them ahead for the first time 14-10.
After another 40-yard touchdown pass by McQueen, Rudder would strike two more times before the half, coming on a 28-yard touchdown pass by Davenport to senior receiver Brenden Steptoe and a 33-yard field goal by Colton Bayer to give the Rangers a 24-20 lead at halftime.
And then everything would turn sour.
On Rudder’s opening possession of the third quarter, Davenport fumbled a snap that was quickly picked up by Manor. The Mustangs promptly marched 55 yards down the field in 2 minutes 37 seconds and scored on a 7-yard touchdown run by senior athlete Stantron Jones. Jones finished the night with 91 rushing yards and two scores.
After forcing Rudder to punt on its next possession, Manor would only need one play to complete a 60-yard touchdown pass by McQueen to a wide open Avery Mack, pushing the Mustang’s lead to 34-24.
McQueen would finish the night as Manor’s top performer, passing for 246 yards and three touchdowns, and rushing for another 49 yards.
On Rudder’s very next possession, Davenport would toss an interception to Manor junior cornerback Jalen Washington, one of two interceptions on the night Washington would pick off of Davenport.
Two plays later for Manor after the pick, and the Mustangs were once again in the end zone on a 31-yard touchdown run by Jones.
The Mustangs would go on to score on three of its next four possessions, including capping the night off with a 84-yard touchdown run by junior Cannonier Fitzgerald, who easily out raced a tired Rudder defense to get into the end zone practically untouched.
Rudder’s only score in the second half came on a 7-yard touchdown run by junior running back Tre Guyton early in the fourth quarter. The Rangers were outscored 41-7 in the second half, and Manor capitalized on turnovers in the second half scoring 21 points from Rudder’s mistakes.
Rudder returns home next Friday for a matchup against Hendrickson, who has won six games in a row and stands alone atop the district 16-4A standings, looking like an early lock for the playoffs. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m. at Merrill Green Stadium.