University bounces Newman, Manning from playoffs with dominant effort

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NEW ORLEANS – University Lab dominated all three phases of the game to end a magical season for the top-seeded Isidore Newman Greenies and their hopes of reaching the school’s first ever state championship berth. The Cubs cruised to a 49-13 victory to advance to the LHSAA Division III select semifinals.

The loss also brings to an end the storied career of Greenies senior quarterback Arch Manning. The University of Texas commit leaves Newman as the all-time leader in school history in every major passing category.

“It’s a great group, I’ve known them since they were 4-5 years old,” said Newman head coach Nelson Stewart about his seniors and Manning.  “When it comes to Arch Manning, he’s leaving with every record in our book for a reason. He’s done it the right way. He’s a leader, he’s a terrific young man … and he took us as far as he could. I was blessed to coach him.”

For University Lab (9-3), the victory was an all-around effort as the Cubs not only found offensive success, but also scored two defensive touchdowns and a returned a punt for a touchdown.

Senior quarterback Seth Abney anchored the University offense, completing nine of 17 passes for 178 yards with a touchdown and an interception.  Abney also added 53 yards on the ground with a touchdown.  Sophomore running back Keylan Moses equally contributed to the ground attack for the Cubs, carrying the rock 14 times for 53 yards and two touchdowns.

Junior wide receiver Seth Gale led all receivers with 92 yards receiving, including a 51-yard touchdown reception.  Additionally, Gale scored on an electric 65-yard punt return early in the 3rd quarter to help keep the pedal to the metal for the Cubs in the second half.

The defense completed the trifecta for the Cubs, scoring their two touchdowns to put the exclamation point on the victory.

On the other side of the ball, Newman knew they’d need a lot of things to go right for them, including an almost perfect effort offensively to keep pace with the explosive University squad.  However, Manning struggled to kick-start the Greenies offense, facing constant pressure from the Cubs defensive front four.  The Cubs sacked Manning four times and held him to zero completions on his first six passing attempts.

The one area where Manning found some success was the ground game.  With the Newman passing attack completely grounded in the first half, the Greenies turned to Manning’s feet to get the offense going.  Manning would lead all rushers with 15 rushes for 84 yards and a touchdown.  Through the air, Manning completed only eight of 22 passes for 96 yards and his two only interceptions for the entire season.

“It’s been a fun career, a bunch of great guys, lifelong memories,” said Manning reflecting on his Newman career.  “It’s been a fun ride and I wouldn’t want to do it with any other guys or coaches.  Lots have been put into this and it’s just been a fun time, for sure.”

The Cubs got on the board early in the game on just their second possession.  Starting at their 48-yard line, Abney dropped a gorgeous pass to his receiver to setup first and goal at the Newman 10-yard line.  The next play, Moses punched it in from 10 yards out for his first touchdown to make the score 7-0 University with 6:55 to play in the first quarter.

Both teams traded punts for the next several possessions, but the Cubs would break the stalemate just before the end of the quarter.  Starting at their own 49-yard line, Abney needed only one play to add to the lead, connecting with Gale on a 51-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-0 with eight seconds to play in the quarter.

The relentless Cubs defense would set the offense up for the next touchdown just before halftime, recovering an Eli Friend fumble at the Newman 26-yard line.  Five plays later, Notre Dame commit Jaiden Ausberry took the snap from the wildcat formation and punched it in for a touchdown to give University a 21-0 lead at halftime.

Coming out of the half, after forcing Newman to punt it away on the opening possession of the second half, the University special teams would get in on the act.  Gale hauled in the punt at his own 35-yard line, turned the corner up the far side of the field, evading three separate near tackles, and scored a 65-yard punt return touchdown to make the University lead 28-0 with 9:51 to play in the third quarter.

Following Manning’s first interception of the season, the Newman defense would return the favor on the ensuing University drive.  Junior defensive end William Darragh made a one-handed interception on Abney’s pass at the Newman 43-yard line and returned it all the way down to the University 3-yard line.  Manning punched it one play later with a 3-yard touchdown run.  The extra point bounced off the left upright, cutting the University lead to 28-6 with 7:57 to play in the third quarter.

University answered on the very next drive to quickly squash any comeback effort by Newman.  Moses scores his second tochdown with a 14-yard run, upping the Cubs lead to 35-6 with 5:54 to play in the third quarter.

Newman responded with their best drive of the game on the following possession.  Starting at their own 26-yard line, the Greenies mounted a 16-play drive to move the ball inside the Cubs 9-yard line.  However, junior defensive back Marcus Dawson would intercept Manning’s throw in the end zone and return it 101 yards for the touchdown, further extending the lead to 42-6 with 10:55 to play in the game.

The Cubs defense would generate their final score of the game two plays later, recovering a fumble in the end zone for back-to-back defensive touchdowns to bring the lead to 49-6 with 9:00 to play in the game.

Friend would take over at quarterback for Newman on the final possession of the game and lead them down the field and score on a 10-yard touchdown run to bring the score to the final tally of 49-13 with 2:00 to play in the game.

University will move on to play No. 4 seed Dunham in Baton Rouge in the semifinals with a trip to the Ochsner LHSAA Prep Classic on the line.  Newman finishes the season with a record of 8-3.

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