NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (WANE) – Trailing by 23 points with 4:17 left in the 4th quarter in Saturday’s season finale against Mount St. Joseph, the Manchester University Spartans nearly pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in program history.
After a 25-yard touchdown pass from MSJ’s Josh Taylor to Wyatt Rutgerson put the Lions ahead 44-21, the Black & Gold needed to score and they needed to score fast.
The Spartans did just that as senior quarterback Bryce Tomasi (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) led MU on a quick, 3-play drive that lasted only 72 seconds. Tomasi hit wide receiver Harrington Greer (South Bend, Ind./Riley) on a crossing route over the middle that Greer broke to the near sideline, taking it 36-yards all the way to the end zone.
Manchester used a pair of timeouts to slow the clock, while getting a needed stop on MSJ’s next possession, forcing the Lions to punt. The Lions were flagged for a kick-catch interference penalty on the ensuing punt which placed the Spartans at their own 35-yard line with 1:39 left to play.
Bryce Tomasi engineered another lightning-fast drive that saw the Spartans go 65 yards in just 1:02. Tomasi hit Greer for a big 33-yard gain, which was assisted by a personal foul penalty by the Lions. Tomasi then connected with Joseph Powell (Beach Park, Ill./Zion Benton) over the middle from 13-yards out to push the score to 44-34. Tomasi then completed the two-point conversion by connecting in the end zone with tight end Camrom Canniff (Niles, Mich./Niles).
With only 37 seconds left in regulation and trailing 44-36, the Black & Gold needed to recover the ensuing kickoff. Manchester did just that as kicker Andrew Kibler (Cape Coral, Fla./Mariner) bounced the kickoff attempt high enough in the air for Harrington Greer to sky above a group of players to recover the ball.
The fervent Manchester rally continued as Bryce Tomasi hit Evan Vizcarra (Logansport, Ind./Logansport) for a 20-yard touchdown reception with just 1.7 seconds left in the game. Vizcarra battled and drug a pair of Lion defenders into the end zone with him.
Now trailing 44-42, the Spartans would need to convert another two-point conversion to force overtime. Manchester’s magic fell just short as the Lions defended the two-point conversion, sealing the victory.
Tomasi led the Manchester offense with four touchdown passes. He finished the day 13-of-18 through the air for 202 yards.
Dave Paul (Dearborn, Mich./Annapolis) led the Black & Gold with 74 yards rushing while both Christian Smith (Indianapolis, Ind./Arsenal Tech) and Zac Montgomery (Knightstown, Ind./Mt. Vernon) both rushed for a score.
Harrington Greer caught seven passes for a career-high 159 yards. Joseph Powell finished with four receptions for 64 yards and two scores.
Defensively, senior Nick Tillmann (Lawrenceburg, Ind./East Central) ended the day with 12 tackles, a sack and 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Jaquan Walker (Johnson, Fla./Interlachen) racked up eight tackles, had three pass breakups, and intercepted a pass in the end zone.
The Spartans’ 2020-21 season came to an end on Saturday. The Black & Gold were able to play seven contests during the COVID-19 Pandemic.