While a lightening delay forced the Manvel-Foster clash to be moved to Saturday, the Mavericks made their own electricity worth the wait.
Manvel overcame a sloppy first half and outlasted the Falcons in a 28-23 squeaker at AISD Memorial Stadium.
The victory kept the Mavs (5-2 overall, 4-1) in a three-way tie with Angleton and Fulshear atop the 10-5A Division I Standings.
“I’m too old for this,” Manvel head coach Kevin Hall joked following the barn burner. “I’m very disappointed in our penalties, our lack of discipline and turning the ball over and giving up explosive plays.
“However, we found a way to get it done against a great team and I’m real proud of them. (Quarterback) Kaden (Smith) made two great plays for us and our defense played great other than three explosive plays. The defensive line was insanely great.”
After watching three turnovers offset a dominant first half and also trailing 14-9 at intermission, the Mavs finally got a break of their own on the third quarter’s opening series. Falcons’ quarterback J.T. Fayard was knocked free of the ball and Zion Holmes fell on it at the Foster’ 20-yard line.
While Chase Cross’ 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked, a roughing the kicker call gave Manvel new life at the 10 and Smith went in from two yards out three plays later to help the Mavs regain the upper hand at 15-14.
Foster answered a little later with Nicholas Lopez’s 19-yard field goal to give the Falcons back the lead at 17-15 with 8:31 left in the contest.
However, after Donovan Semien exploded 46 yards with the ensuing kickoff, Smith scooted 17 yards on a third-and-nine keeper and then sprinted 15 yards to the end zone to make it 21-17 Manvel with 7:21 remaining.
After the teams traded punts, the Mavs’ defense held on downs from the Foster 30-yard line and Smith converted a clutch fourth-and-eight situation with the senior signal caller hitting Joseph Paddio across the middle. Paddio dove into the end zone with the 28-yard catch-and-run to increase the Mavs’ lead to 28-17 with 2:03 left.
Smith-to-Paddio proved to be even huger with the Falcons immediately striking back on Fayard’s 75-yard scoring strike to Ashton Ojiaku on the first play following the ensuing kickoff.
Manvel recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt, though, and despite having to give it back to Foster in the closing seconds, the Mavs’ defense sacked Fayard on the game’s final play to wrap up the heartstopper.
“Coach Hall told us in the locker room at halftime never to quit. We’ve been in this predicament before and we just got to execute, execute,” Smith said. “We can’t let them get in our heads. They got into our heads in the first half. We came out and did better in the second half.
“Coach always told me to stay ready (on the 15-yard TD keeper). When he gave me that call, I answered it.”
Smith hooked up with Ja`Vhari Taylor on a 29-yard TD toss in the opening period and Jalen Charles sacked Fayard in his own end zone for a safety and a 9-0 Manvel lead in the second quarter.
The Mavs also turned the ball over three times, though, including losing the ball on a fumble at the Foster 1-yard line. The Falcons ultimately erupted for a pair of TD’s late in the second. Fayard hit Dylan Apponey with a 24-yard TD pass and Ojiaku busted loose for a 77-yard scoring run for the 14-9 Falcons’ advantage at the break.
Manvel next plays at Magnolia, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.