The No. 8 Red Devils (4-1, 2-1 Region 5-AA) needed just 40 seconds and two plays to go 90 yards and open the game with a 7-0 lead, but the offense sputtered from then on and didn't score again until there was less than a minute left in the fourth quarter.
"First half, I don't know how many times we shot ourselves in the foot. We could have easily scored two more touchdowns, but a couple fumbles here and there, penalties and missed assignments. The second half they came out and controlled the third quarter and we couldn't stop them. I thought we did a great job stopping them in the first half and the fourth quarter, but that third quarter they just ran right off tackle on us and we had a lot of missed tackles," Bowdon coach Dwight Hochstetler said.
Following Chris Keith's 90-yard kickoff return being called back to start the game, he carried the ball 25 yards on the first play and Darnell Holland carried it 36 yards the rest of the way for the early score.
Manchester answered right back, not even needing an offensive snap to get back in the game, as Demien Turner returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for the touchdown. With the missed extra point Bowdon still hung onto the 7-6 lead.
From there, neither offense was able to get anything going. After trading punts, the Red Devils fumbled on a promising drive. Four punts, a turnover on downs and a late interception ended the half, with Bowdon still leading 7-6.
The third quarter, however, belonged to the Blue Devils (3-1, 1-0).
After being held to just 23 yards of total offense in the first half, Manchester found a way to get things going in the third. The Blue Devils took their first drive of the half 66 yards in 15 plays and took the lead at 12-7 after the two-point try failed.
On Bowdon's next possession, it was a three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Blue Devils. Again, going 40 yards in eight plays, this time Manchester was able to find the end zone again, making the extra point to go up 19-7 as the horn sounded for the end of the third quarter.
With time winding down, the Red Devils forced a punt and got the ball back down by 12 with 2:42 left in the game. Marcus Thurman led the team into the end zone, capping it off with a six-yard run of his own. But trailing by six and needing the onside kick with just 55 seconds left, it wasn't enough.
Keith led the Red Devil offensive attack, going 108 yards while Holland added 76 yards and a score. Overall, Bowdon out-gained Manchester, 302 to 99 yards, but several drives stalled for the Red Devils and were continued for the Blue Devils through penalties.
Bowdon was penalized 11 times for 87 yards, not including several calls that were declined by the Manchester coaching staff. Some, a couple of late hit calls, kept Manchester drives going and a few holding calls stalled the Red Devil attack.
"We'll have to look on film. Some penalties we didn't see and some it was just hustling type penalties. You can't blame the kids for hustling and getting that second and third effort. We have to be more mature to eliminate those mistakes if we want to be successful," Hochstetler said.
Now the Red Devils will look to get back on track as they host Jordan next week.
"We just have to get better. We're going to work on us next week. Maybe not throw as much at them next week, cut back on our offense and get back to the basics," Hochstetler said.