Manti football struggled in their first game on the road and fell in a defensive slugfest, 14-7, to Delta, who moved down to 2A from 3A during realignment this offseason.
Senior quarterback Kayson Douglas took nearly all the reps at quarterback after the load was somewhat split last week between him and junior Larsen Pogroszewski. Douglas was effective in moving the ball, but the offense had trouble getting in the end zone. Douglas finished completing 21 of 32 passes for 247 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Pogroszewski was the top receiving target for Douglas, catching 10 passes for 69 yards, while sophomore Reggie Frischknecht had two catches for 90 yards and Manti’s only touchdown. The Templars’ run game was altogether stymied as Douglas led all rushers with 27 yards on 10 carries.
“We got in close twice and didn’t score,” Coach Cole Meacham said. “Against Delta, you just can’t do that. They grind the ball down the field and take up a lot of time and put the ball in the end zone. Your offense has to take advantage of every opportunity, and we just weren’t able to do it.”
Manti was first with the ball and nearly got points on the board in their first possession with an effective drive, but Douglas’s first shot at the end zone was intercepted as a Rabbit defender jumped in front of the receiver in the end zone and took it back 10 yards.
Delta turned the turnover into points and took nearly nine minutes off the clock in the process, running 15 plays culminating in a run up the middle for a touchdown from six yards out for a 7-0 lead.
Manti responded quickly with a two-play touchdown drive as Douglas found Frischknecht wide open behind the defense for a long pass and a 79-yard touchdown play up the left side to tie it up at 7-7.
After holding up the Rabbits on defense, Manti drove downfield in the final minutes of the first half and had a goal-line opportunity as time expired, but senior Carter Stevenson met a brick wall of Delta defenders right at the line and couldn’t get through, leaving the halftime score as a 7-7 tie.
After halftime, the Rabbits first possession was a clock-eater once again, taking nearly seven minutes to go downfield for another touchdown up the middle from a yard away, giving Delta the 14-7 lead.
Manti’s first possession of the second half ended in an ugly interception, again from Delta jumping the route, but Delta’s attempt at a 4th-and-goal was stopped inches short of a touchdown by Manti junior Jace Wilson.
Late in the fourth quarter, Manti forced a punt to get possession back with 1:30 remaining. The offense turned to Douglas, who completed a string of passes to get up to the 38-yard line.
Facing 2nd-and-3 with four seconds left, Kayson stepped up to take a shot at the end zone, but not before a Delta defender wrapped an arm all the way around him and drove him into the ground for a game-ending sack.
“This is a game where the kids learn that they just need to keep playing together,” Meacham said. “If they keep playing together, they’re going to improve, and things are going to be alright.”
Manti will stay on the road this Friday as they head up to Tooele County to take on Grantsville.