Mannheim beats ISB, reaches D-II playoffs for second straight season
October 15, 2010
MANNHEIM, Germany – Riding huge efforts Friday night from sophomore Aaron Garrison and junior Jacob Lankford, the Mannheim Bison added another twist to their improbable final chapter of the school’s football history – a 21-14 victory over the International School of Brussels Raiders.
“We’re at home next week for the playoffs,” said Mannheim coach Frank Macias after Garrison ran 26 times for 145 yards and a touchdown and Lankford registered three tackles for losses and two sacks and recovered an errant snap in the ISB end zone for what would prove to be the winning touchdown. “I’ve asked all the old-timers, and none of them could remember the last time we had a home playoff game. Apparently, it’s been a hundred years.”
After falling behind 6-0 in the first quarter on Stephen Clark’s TD run, the Bison, who made the Division II playoffs for the second straight season, dominated play until late in the final stanza by posting 21 unanswered points. Garrison got things started with a 40-yard run to pay dirt; Calvin Baisden broke a five-yard TD run with 1:43 to play in the half, and Lankford fell on a high snap from punt formation that carried into the ISB end zone with 5:40 to go in the third period.
“Jacob Lankford was the player of the game for us,” Macias said. “He had a huge game.”
Lankford had appeared to give Mannheim (3-2) a chance to widen its 14-6 halftime edge when he sacked ISB freshman quarterback Marshall Kontos on a fourth-and-nine play 44 seconds before halftime to give the Bison the ball on the ISB 41-yard line. A 10-yard pass from Adam Cornelius to Brandon Wiley quickly netted 10 yards, and Garrison took a pitch around left end to the ISB 21 with 33 seconds to go. A false-start flag, however, took the ball back to the 25, and Wiley, who kicked all three extra points, missed wide right on a 42-yard field-goal try on the final play of the half.
It was one of the few things to misfire for the Bison on this night.
“It was all about staying focused,” said Baisden. “Everything we did was right.”
Almost everything, anyway.
ISB got back into the game when Mannheim elected to go for fourth-and-one on its own 36 with 5:12 left in the game. ISB threw Garrison for a 3-yard loss and took over on the Mannheim 33. Nine plays later, Alex Immel crashed over from the 6-yard line and ran in a two-point conversion for ISB’s final points. The drive, hindered by two holding penalties and an illegal procedure call against ISB, succeeded thanks to 30 yards in penalties against Mannheim and 15-yard completion from Kontos to Immel on a third-and-14 play.
“It was my decision to go for it,” Macias said of electing to try for the first down. “If we had made it, the game was over.”Instead, the game still had 3:24 to go, and it was gut-check time for the Bison.
ISB’s onside-kick try went out of bounds, setting Mannheim up on its own 40. The Bison, with Garrison carrying six times for 24 yards, then ran out the clock.
“We dodged one,” Macias said. “Our kids played with a lot of heart.”
Vinny Culotta led ISB (2-3) with 93 yards on 11 rushes. Matias Bifani posted 12 tackles for the Raiders, who will be the probable No. 4 seed in next Saturday’s D-II quarterfinals. Few teams could have done better this night against the inspired Bison.
“We gave our heart on every play,” senior linebacker Sean Knight said he and his teammates celebrated on the field which now will host at least one more Mannheim Bison game. “I‘m completely overwhelmed with joy. It’s fun making history.”