SHAPE moves closer to playoff spot
BRUNSSUM, Netherlands - Conner Manning ran for 290 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as the SHAPE Spartans clinched at least a tie for second place and Division II-North’s second playoff berth with a 41-12 victory at AFNORTH.
“I would guess Conner Manning probably gained 200 yards of the 290 after initial contact by an AFNORTH defender,” Lions coach Greg Blankenship wrote in an email report of the game.
Blankenship cited the work of 5-foot-11, 258-pound Taylor Ator in helping spring Manning loose as well as his role in containing AFNORTH’s usually prolific spread offense.
“…Ator crushed the young AFNORTH line on offense and defense,” Blankenship wrote. “He was tossing AFNORTH’s freshman linebackers around like Frisbees throughout the game. He was the primary reason … Manning had a career day and (AFNORTH) quarterback Daniel Cordova was scrambling for his life. … Ator caused 12 hurried throws, made seven solo tackles behind the line of scrimmage and got a sack.”
SHAPE (3-1-1 overall and 2-1 in II-North) led 28-0 at halftime before Cordova, who has two 400-plus yards passing games under his belt already this season, could find his rhythm, Blankenship reported. Cordova finished the game 12-of-26 for 217 yards and two touchdowns, one of them a 99-yard scoring toss to Densier Carnes that
Blankenhship said showed the strength of Cordova’s arm and his deep-ball accuracy.
SHAPE quarterback Brett Cain matched Cordova with two touchdown passes; his five completions in seven attempts netted 52 yards.
Defensively, Blankenship reported, Saturday was a case of Luke Narug or nothing for AFNORTH.
“…Narug had 17 solo tackles and five assists throughout the game,” Blankenship wrote. “If Luke Narug didn’t make the tackle at the line of scrimmage then Connor Manning usually ran for 18-25 yards down the field before … Carnes made a play. Narug is the only reason AFNORTH wasn’t mercy-ruled in the first quarter of the game.”
Next up for SHAPE is a showdown at home against International School of Brussels. A victory in that one would put the Spartans into the D-II semifinals against the top team from II-South.
AFNORTH (1-4 overall and 0-2 in II-North) is to close out its season Saturday at unbeaten Bitburg.