Manhattan falls to Washburn Rural, suffers first loss of season

Advith Natarajan, Staff Writer

With two minutes remaining in the game and Manhattan down 21-14, junior quarterback Keenan Schartz rolled out to his right, looking for the open man. Washburn’s exquisite coverage of the secondary left Schartz no option but to throw up a prayer. The high arcing throw landed straight in the hands of Washburn linebacker Connor Conklin, sealing the game for the Junior Blues.

“Honestly, the energy wasn’t where it was supposed to be,” senior defensive lineman Josh Adeniji said. “We just need to pick it up next week in practice.”

The tightly contested matchup was back and forth from the start. A quick first quarter score by Washburn receiver Robby Bolin was immediately answered by a 99-yard kickoff return by senior running back Vinny Smith and a rushing touchdown for Washburn running back Ma’kenttis Adams was followed by a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Schartz. Heading into halftime, the game was knotted at 14 apiece. The second half, however, was a different story. The Washburn defense shut down the Manhattan run game, forcing the offense to become one-dimensional through the air. 

“I just felt like we were not as physical as normal upfront offensively … or [on the] defensive line,” head coach Joe Schartz said. “We were not able to run the football and … when we can’t run the football, we are not a very good offense.”

The lack of production in the second half by the MHS offense eventually came back to bite them. The decrease in offensive efficiency led to the defense remaining on the field for the majority of the second half, which Washburn took advantage of as the Indians’ fatigued defense was no match for the dynamic WaRu offense. The empty possessions on the offensive end combined with the late turnovers gave Washburn the edge and ultimately the win. 

“We faced adversity in games, but that was the first time that we’ve had lost the game and faced some real adversity, so it’s just a choice right now of what way these guys want to go,” Coach Schartz said. “We can make excuses and point fingers or we can get back to work and get better.”

Manhattan will travel to Topeka this Friday to take on the Topeka West Chargers.