Manvel advances to region final with 31-7 win over Hightower

MANVEL — Beating a team during the regular season in a close contest is hard enough, but having to do it twice is that more challenging.

However, Manvel made it look easy the second time than the 49-38 first time battle between the two district rivals.

The first time confrontation, the outcome could have gone either way. But there was little doubt the second time as Manvel made sure they would control the outcome with the 31-7 Class 5A Region III Div. I semifinal win.

Now the Mavs will advance to the 5A region finals against the Cedar Park Timberwolves (12-0) on Friday, January 1 at 2:30 p.m. at Merrill Green Stadium in Bryan.

The fourth-round playoff appearance is the norm for Manvel, which made its first post-season berth in 2010 and failed to reach state quarterfinals only twice during this run, which includes a 2017 win over Cedar Park.

“This program was good before I got here, and it’s going to be good when I’m gone,” Manvel head coach Kevin Hall said. “The expectations are you win everything, and I don’t want to coach at someplace where it’s not that.”

Manvel looked ready to take on the challenge and did so with being well prepared.

The Mavericks (9-1) went into the wind to start and lined up in a jumbo offensive set with running backs De’Monte’ Seymore, Ty Harris and Jordon Vaughn in the backfield alongside quarterback Gabriel Larry.

The package led the way for 17 points in the first half while Hightower wasn't able to cross the Manvel goal line.

After a field goal by Antonio Rodriguez in the first quarter with 8:43 left for a 3-0 lead, Manvel made it 10-0 on a Vaughn 1-yard run with 8:20 left in the second quarter, and Seymore added a second 1-yard touchdown as the half expired.

Manvel added the exclamation point to start the second half, forcing and recovering Hightower fumble on the kickoff. Seymore took the ensuing handoff and ran 36 yards untouched for a 24-0 lead with 11:43 left in the third quarter.

With :59 seconds left in the third, Larry scored on a 1-yard keeper to increase the lead to 31-0.

Hightower finally scored with 4:32 left in the game to make the final score 31-7.

Vaughn led the way with 157 yards and one touchdown, while Seymore added 104 and two scores. Larry ran for 30 yards and one touchdown as Manvel outgained Hightower 438-271.

“We’re fortunate that we have a room full of running backs who have done a really good job and we have an offensive line that’s really come on,” Hall said. “That’s enabled us to put different backs in there, run them and not get anyone wore out or too tired. It’s nice to have three or four guys.”