Hightower rallies for a 16-12 win over Manvel

MANVEL — Manvel played Hightower twice last season, once during the regular season (49-38) and then in the post-season (31-7), coming out victorious on both occasions.

“In all my years of coaching, I’ve never beat Manvel,” said first-year Hightower coach Cornelius Anthony. “I was at Willowridge, then I was at Terry and now I’m with the Hurricanes, and this is why I came here — for games like this. I’m excited. Our guys played their hearts out, our coaches had a great game plan … and I can barely hold back the tears.”

There was something different about this year's district contest between the two rivals.

Manvel (3-2, 1-1) struggled on offense against a very aggressive Hightower (3-1, 2-0) defense which put pressure on the Mavs defense to stay in the game.

With 6:31 left in the second quarter, Manvel finally scored a touchdown on a 12-yard run by De'Monte Seymore. The PAT was good and Manvel had a 7-0 lead.

The Mavs started the short scoring drive on the Hightower 31 and four-plays later found paydirt thanks to three carries by Seymore for the score.

The Mavs defense would get a safety before intermission for a 9-0 lead before Hightower would kick a 36-yard field goal to cut the lead to 9-3 at halftime.

Manvel didn't pick up a first down until midway in the second quarter while Hightower spent most of the first half on offense on the Manvel side of the 50, but couldn't put together enough offense to penetrate the Manvel goal line.

The second half was no better for the Mavs who were only able to manage a field goal with 2:38 left in the third quarter to increase their slim lead to 12-3.

The lackluster offensive output by the Mavs finally caught up with them in the fourth quarter as a persistent Hightower offense finally broke the barrier with 11:07 left in the final stanza when the Hurricanes running back Jeremy Payne came alive, supplying a 64-yard catch-and-run that set up quarterback Kendron Penson Jr.’s 7-yard touchdown dive just inside the right pylon to pull within 12-10.

Manvel turned the ball over on downs on its ensuing drive, and Hightower responded with a game-winning eight-play, 68-yard march that culminated with Penson’s 5-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Caleb Douglas with 5:46 left in the game.

The two-point conversion was no good leaving the 'Canes with a 16-12 lead which stood as the final score as the No. 9 area-ranked Hurricanes upset the No. 3 area-ranked Mavs.

Manvel finished with 260 yards of total offense and Seymore had 175 yards on 26 carries. The Mavs were only 5-of-17 passing for 28 yards.

“I tell these guys, being a defensive guy myself, defense wins championships,” Anthony said. “They don’t score, they don’t win. And I know eventually our offense is going to start clicking. We just have too many weapons for it not to.

“And, true to form, they came through.”

The Hurricanes finished with 304 total yards and eight first downs, with Penson throwing for 214 yards on 11-of-19 passing.

Manvel has an open date this week. The Mavs will travel to Angleton to face the Wildcats on Friday, October 8 at Wildcat Stadium at 7:00 p.m.