By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Blessed Trinity’s Spencer McManes was hit with the most dreaded double whammy for any quarterback late in the second quarter at Woodward Academy.
The senior’s last pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and returned 38 yards for a touchdown by War Eagle safety Quincy Wolff – his second pick-six in as many games. And to make matters worse, McManes was drilled during the return by Woodward defensive end Ozzie Bunbury.
But the sting of the interception and the hit turned into motivation for McManes and his teammates, as they turned a 14-7 halftime deficit into a 21-14 win in the Region 6AAA opener for both teams. Blessed Trinity is now 4-1, 1-0 in the region, while Woodward fell to 3-2, 0-1 in league play.
McManes was steady in the first half, except for the interception, completing 6-of-8 passes for 73 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown pass to Robert McQuaid after a nifty ball-fake on a double reverse. But he was better in the second half, completing 5-of-7 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
“The hit just let me know tha my teammates were behind me and had confidence in me,” MManes said. “They said, hey, they hit our quarterback, so we’ll hit them harder.”
Titan head coach Tim McFarlin was visibly upset by the hit, and called the officials over to gently and cordially explain his point of view.
“It was a clean hit, but it was well behind the play, I thought,” McFarlin said. “This is high school football and you have to protect the kids.
“I don’t know how much the woke us up, but we knew we could move the ball on them in the second half,” McFarlin said. “We just had to clean a few things up on offense and our defense played great. That’s a good Woodward team and we gave up just seven points to them [on offense].”
It was the Blessed Trinity defense that ignited the game-winning drive for the Titans. With the game tied at 14 late in the third quarter, the unit got a key stop and forced the War Eagles to turn the ball over on downs at the Blessed Trinity 28-yard line. The key play was a sack of Woodward quarter back Terry Googer by Nathaniel Maggio for a 14-yard loss.
Then McManus led the Titans on a 7-play, 72-yard drive, and capped it with a 20-yard dart to Dylan Cote for a touchdown to put Blessed Trinity up 21-14. The defense put the game away with a little over 2 minutes left when John Davis intercepted Googer’s pass near midfield.
Blessed Trinity 0 7 7 7 21
Woodward Academy 0 14 0 0 14
BT – Robert McQuaid 33 pass from Spencer McManes (Marc Nolan kick)
WA – Terry Googer 9 run (Alex Robinson kick)
WA – Quincy Wolff 38 interception return (Robinson kick)
BT – Sam Roberts 61 pass from McManes (Nolan kick)
BT – Dylan Cote 20 pass from McManes (Nolan kick)