The matchup between a pair of undefeated teams looked like it in the first 12 minutes of Friday's nonleague crossover between Manheim Township and Cocalico.
Each team scored a touchdown and traded a couple punts. But after a slow start, the Blue Streaks exploded for three second-quarter touchdowns and pushed the scoreboard to a running clock in the final minutes of the third quarter in an eventual 56-7 victory on the road in Denver.
“We came out tonight and they scored and we couldn't hang our heads,” Manheim Township running back Jaden Floyd said. “We just started moving the ball and got a push off the line.”
Floyd finished with 89 rushing yards on 10 attempts with two rushing scores to go along with 100 receiving yards on two TD receptions.
The win pushed Manheim Township to 5-0 heading into next week’s Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One showdown at undefeated Wilson (5-0).
Meanwhile, Cocalico (4-1) must heal in time for its L-L Section Two bout at rival Manheim Central next Friday.
The Eagles lost fullback Austin Vang early in the first half, with Vang on crutches with his right knee wrapped the rest of the night. Leading rusher and senior quarterback/safety Noah Palm and fourth-leading rusher Ronald Zahm left the action early in the second half and were both seen limping after the game, with Zahm's right knee wrapped.
The Eagles’ vaunted Veer offense was instead held to 89 yards on 38 attempts, an average of 2.3 yards a carry. Palm was kept to minus-7 yards on nine attempts.
"How do you regroup? You go back to the fundamentals," veteran Cocalico coach Dave Gingrich said. "We're going to go back to the basics. We're going to work simple schemes offensively and defensively and special teams and try to get healthy in time for Friday."
Cocalico fumbled the ball away on its first possession, setting up Manheim Township with an easy four-play, 21-yard drive capped by Floyd's 5-yard run to the right side to make it 7-0.
The Eagles answered two possessions later, when Palm connected with Zahm on a 15-yard pass to the right side, with another 15 yards tacked on due to a Manheim Township penalty.
Two plays later, Zahm busted loose for a 31-yard run down the right side, and Palm followed that with a 4-yard rushing keeper to make it 7-7 at the 1:42 mark of the first quarter.
"We had some sloppy tackling," Manheim Township coach Mark Evans said. "Some guys were upset. That's the makeup of this football team. Just like the Central Dauphin game, when it's close these guys are like, 'Let's go, next play.'"
Manheim Township answered with an 8-play, 75-yard drive finished off by a 33-yard TD pass from Harrison Kirk to Jon Engel.
It was the first of four TD throws from Kirk (9 for 16, 201 yards). His longest throw came two possessions later when he found Floyd over the middle, with Floyd wrestling for a reception, stripping a Cocalico defender and rumbling the rest of the way for an 80-yard score.
Cocalico's second fumble came with under a minute left before halftime that gave Manheim Township the ball on the Eagles' 19-yard line. The next play, Kirk found receiver Nathan Carpenter over the middle for the score and a 28-7 lead heading into the break.
Manheim Township pushed it to a running clock when Floyd busted loose for a 49-yard rushing score down the left side with 2:45 to go in the third quarter.