Kegarise, Barons maul the Mules, 78-26

By on November 2, 2016
Manheim Central QB Kody Kegarise finds an opening in the Solanco defense and takes off for a 50-yard TD run last Friday night. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Manheim Central QB Kody Kegarise finds an opening in the Solanco defense and takes off for a 50-yard TD run last Friday night. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Manheim Central expected to have a real donnybrook on its hands.

After all, it was the Barons who spoiled Solanco’s hopes of winning the Section Two crown outright on the final day of the regular season a year ago.

Last Friday was the Golden Mules’ opportunity to get some revenge.

It never happened.

Behind QB Kody Kegarise, who accounted for 386 offensive yards and six TDs, Manheim Central scored early and often on its way to a 78-26 Section Two drubbing on Senior Night in Manheim.

The Barons’ fourth straight win improved their record to 5-1 L-L (8-1 overall), keeping them tied atop the Section standings with one regular-season game remaining this Friday, Nov. 4 at Garden Spot. MC is also currently No. 2 in the District Three 5A power ratings behind only Governor Mifflin (8-1).

“We talk about a singular focus every week,” Manheim Central coach Dave Hahn said. “The only thing that matters is that next game. Forget what you did, forget about the last game. The only thing that matters is the next game and you can’t look ahead.”

That focus certainly paid off against a young Solanco squad which had won its previous three games while averaging more than 300 rushing yards per contest.

“I thought they were going to be out for blood,” Kegarise said, “and I knew they were. But I just kept telling (our players), ‘They’re going to try to do what we did to them last year.’ I think that’s what we were prepared for.”

Special teams had a lot to do with the Barons’ success, evidenced by Austin Geib’s 65-yard return on the opening kickoff. That set the table for Jay Barreto’s 11-yard TD run on Central’s first play from scrimmage, and Bryce Kready’s first of 10 PATs made it 7-0 with just 17 seconds elapsed.

Overall, Manheim Central had an average starting position of Solanco’s 49 for their first six possessions, on which they needed just 12 offensive plays to grab a commanding 42-13 lead.

And when Tyler Flick broke into the Mules’ secondary and then turned on the jets down the left sideline for a 72-yard TD run, it was quickly 14-0 with only 3:19 elapsed in the first quarter.

Solanco, to its credit, had a pair of 100-yard rushers in sophomore QB Joel McGuire (21-117) and senior running back Eric Hopkins (27-130). Relying heavily on those two on their second series, the Mules countered with a 13-yard TD run by Hopkins with 5:47 left in the first, capping a seven-play, 70-yard drive. The PAT was blocked by Joe Kolk, but the Mules cut their deficit to 13-6.

But they would get no closer.

With no answer for Kegarise and the Barons’ mighty offense, Solanco became buried in a hole too deep to overcome.

The Barons’ senior signal-caller connected with Mitchell Ruth on a 30-yard TD strike in the right corner of the end zone with 5:03 left in the period, and then after MC’s defense stopped McGuire on a fourth-and-6, Kegarise showed off his wheels with a 50-yard TD sprint down the right sideline.

The first-quarter onslaught still wasn’t done yet, however. Following a fumble recovery by Tyler Simon, the Barons went right back to work, and Jake Novak made a sensational one-handed 28-yard TD grab with 2:02 left on the clock.

“I knew it was something crazy,” Kegarise said of Novak’s catch, “because I threw the ball a little further than probably what I should have. He made a really great grab.”

The first quarter finally ended with Manheim Central leading 35-6. Kegarise, who ran for 242 yards and four TDs on eight carries, in addition to completing 9-of-12 passes for 144 yards and two scores, was just getting started. The Barons gained 394 of their 538 total yards on the ground.

“Fantastic start,” Hahn said. “Kody was on fire. He was just hitting on all cylinders tonight. When Kody’s making reads like he did, it’s hard to stop us.”

McGuire’s one-yard TD dive with 9:58 left in the half finished a 14-play drive and opened the second-half scoring. But in a span of just 4:07, Kegarise bolted for his second 50-yard TD run of the night and Barreto (4-33 rushing) added his second score on an 11-yard carry. Colin Erb’s two-point run made it 50-13.

Hopkins and Alex McDonald were then moving the chains for Solanco on its next possession, until Novak pirated his fourth INT of the season to get the ball back for MC at its own 39. Four plays later, Kegarise dropped back to pass, darted up the middle, gave the Mules’ defense a pump fake, cut right and scored on a 40-yard TD run to push the lead to 57-13, which is how it remained at the half.

“I think it was actually a pass play and I just didn’t see what I liked, so I tucked it,” Kegarise said, “and as I was running down the field, I saw a bunch of Solanco guys so I just started pulling out moves, a pump fake and I just cut off a nice block by Austin Geib.”

“That’s good stuff. I taught him that,” Hahn joked. “(Kody) had a lot more speed than the (Solanco) defense did. I mean, he had a couple just subtle moves out there that just looked like he was breaking ankles.”

Starting the second half with the mercy rule in effect, the Barons scored twice in the third. After Kegarise scored his fourth rushing TD – and 17th of the season – a 62-yard dash, Central recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the Mules’ 24, and then freshman QB Evan Simon carried to the one and lost control of the ball, only to see Geib recover it in the end zone for a 71-13 MC lead.

Erb’s one-yard TD run with :40 left in the third completed the Barons’ scoring, and then Solanco scored the final two TDs on McDonald’s four-yard run and Hopkins’ 18-yard jaunt, both in the fourth quarter.

“It felt pretty good knowing it’s Senior Night,” Kegarise said. “That’s what everybody wants to do is come out and play their best, so it felt good.”

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