While a stiff north wind blew into Iowa Colony’s Freedom Field Christmas Eve, the Manvel Mavericks proceeded to blow away 10-5A rival Hightower in the Division I Regional Football Semifinals the same afternoon.
The Mavs utilized a dominant power running game and a defense which continually stopped the explosive Hurricanes’ offense cold with Manvel upending Hightower 31-7 Thursday afternoon.
The victory sets up a state quarterfinal meeting with Cedar Park for Kevin Hall’s squad on Jan. 1 at Merrill Green Stadium in Bryan at 2:30 p.m. This will be the third playoff meeting between the programs with the Mavs prevailing in both the 2016 and 2017 postseason encounters.
Thursday’s contest served in stark contrast to Manvel and Hightower’s regular season affair where the teams combined for 87 points. Manvel shredded the Hurricanes for 329 yards on the ground and 442 yards overall, while limiting Hightower to just 273 yards overall.
Both Jordon Vaughn (127 yards on 28 carries, one touchdown) and De`Monte Seymour (105 yards on 21 carries, two TD’s) went over the century rushing mark for Manvel.
Both defenses proved hard to move on during the opening period with Mavs’ place kicker Antonio Rodriguez’s 22-yard field goal providing the only scoreboard blow during the initial 12 minutes. However, Manvel’s jumbo aligned backfield of Vaughn, Seymour and Ty Harris (60 yards on 14 carries) gradually wore down Hightower’s defense, as the first half progressed.
Vaughn went in from a yard out with 8:20 left in the second quarter to increase Manvel’s lead to 10-0, while Seymour added his own 1-yard run for a 17-0 lead at intermission. On the other hand, Hightower was forced to punt four times and had another possession end on downs.
Things didn’t get much better for the Hurricanes coming out of the halftime dressing room with LeMarkus Owens recovering a Hightower fumble on the opening kickoff. Seymour exploded to the end zone from 36 yards out on the ensuing play and Rodriguez added the PAT for a commanding 24-0 Manvel edge a mere 17 seconds into the third quarter.
Hightower’s offense finally got something going with a drive inside Manvel’s 10-yard line. Following a missed field goal, though, the Mavs marched 80 yards capped by quarterback Gabriel Larry’s 1-yard keeper for a 31-0 Manvel advantage heading into the final 12 minutes.
Larry (9 of 13) passed for 123 yards and added 31 yards on the ground.
Jakolby Longino finally ended the dry spell with a touchdown for Hightower with four minutes remaining, but Jordan Benjamin closed out the dominating day for Mavs with an interception off the Hurricanes’ signal caller a few minutes later.
Malachi McLean and Jaqai Neal paced the Mavs on defense with seven tackles apiece, while JP Deeter and Tyree Scranton provided five tackles apiece. Jaric Woodley and Kivon Wright also sacked Longino once each.