Warwick vs Manheim central-LL Football

Warwick quarterback Joey McCracken (5) runs in for a touchdown against Manheim Central during first half action on Grosh Field at Warwick High School Friday September 6, 2019.

Warwick got a clutch interception from senior Conor Adams late in the first half of Friday night's nonleague game against visiting Manheim Central.

Nine plays later, Warwick's offense marched down the field to get a touchdown just before halftime.

A year ago, Manheim Central had done the same to Warwick, and the Barons eventually posted a comeback win in that game.

This time, though, Warwick had all the momentum going into halftime and kept the Barons from rising back up in the second half en route to a monumental 37-7 victory over the defending District Three Class 5A champion Barons.

It was the first time since 1983 that Warwick (3-0) had beaten Manheim Central (2-1). And it snapped the Barons' 27-game regular-season unbeaten streak, dating back to 2016.

“Last year we let (Manheim Central) put up a big score before halftime,” Warwick junior lineman Nolan Rucci recalled. “That was a big thing this year. We knew we had to deal with that. It (the TD late in the first half) was a good swing of momentum to get that scoreboard back up.”

The 6-foot, 8-inch Rucci was a key cog in an offensive line also made up of seniors Jeremiah High, Hayden Benner and Hunter Diebler and junior Owen Campbell, along with junior tight end Thatcher Miller.

That unit kept junior QB Joey McCracken (14 of 25, 293 passing yards, three TDs) clean most of the night while opening holes for junior workhorse back Colton Miller (28 attempts, 128 rushing yards, one TD).

Meanwhile, the Warriors’ 3-4 defense kept Manheim Central stud QB Evan Simon (11 for 28, 126 passing yards, one TD, 10 rushing attempts for 54 yards) scrambling and stifled the Barons' rushing game. Simon was sacked numerous times, and the rest of Manheim Central's backfield produced 6 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Manheim Central was also without starting linebacker Clay Bedi, who was in a walking boot Friday recovering from a right ankle injury suffered a week ago.

“We don't have a run game. We don't have a pass game. We're not a very good team right now,” Manheim Central coach Dave Hahn said. “We're just going to keep working. ... We’ve got kids. Some of the kids are young and it shows. We’re just like everybody else. Everybody expects us to win by 50. We’re not there yet. We'll get back there. It might not be this year but we’ll get back there.”

Warwick went 59 yards in eight plays on its opening drive, getting an 11-yard scoring throw from McCracken to Caleb Schmitz on fourth down to go up 6-0.

Later, on the first play of a new drive to start the second quarter, McCracken found Justin Gerhart wide open over the middle for an untouched 70-yard scoring throw to push the Warriors’ lead to 12-0.

Manheim Central followed with a 10-play, 65-yard drive that was capped when Simon found Wes Herder in the back corner of the end zone for a 10-yard passing TD to cut the deficit to 12-7.

After Adams' interception, McCracken later scored on a 1-yard keeper with 27 seconds left in the first half to push the Warriors' advantage to 19-7 going into the break.

On its third play of the third drive of the second half, McCracken connected with Adams for a 76-yard scoring strike that pushed the lead to 27-7 after a successful 2-point conversion.