FLORENCE -- The Manhattan defense fired out of the gate and then stood tall late to help the Tigers earn a thrilling 35-29 Class B football overtime win over Florence on Friday.
The Tigers' defense was lights out early, scoring the game's first two touchdowns. Fred Livezey returned a fumble for a TD to give Manhattan a 7-0 lead, and then Gabriel Delgatty took an interception to the house to make it 14-0.
First-year Florence quarterback Pat Duchien Jr. settled in later in the first half, though, punching in a touchdown to bring the Falcons within 14-7 in the second quarter. Caden Holgate responded with a touchdown pass to Corban Johnson for Manhattan to push the lead to 21-7 going into halftime.
The fireworks hit a new level in the second half, though. Duchien twice connected with Blake Shoupe for Florence touchdowns in the third quarter, and a two-point conversion gave the Falcons their first lead at 22-21 going into the fourth. Shoupe had 158 receiving yards in the game as Florence finished with 246 yards of offense.
Holgate answered with his second touchdown pass of the day, finding Isaac Richardson to give the lead back to Manhattan in the fourth.
But this time it was the Florence defense making the game-changing play. As Manhattan tried to run clock to close out the game, the Falcons' Trystan Payette stripped the ball carrier and returned it 65 yards for the game-tying score, ultimately sending the game to overtime.
Florence missed a field goal to start overtime, giving Manhattan the chance to ice the game, and the Tigers capitalized. Holgate threw his third TD of the game, finding Toby Veltkamp for the game-clinching score to start the season 1-0. Florence fell to 1-1.
Class B football scores
(Scroll through the above videos for game highlights)
Big Timber at Colstrip (canceled due to unhealthy air quality)
Bigfork 59, Cut Bank 7
Columbus 62, Red Lodge 40
Fairfield 22, Missoula Loyola 0
Glasgow 36, Conrad 8
Malta 50, Roundup 6
Manhattan 35, Florence 29 (OT)
Townsend 27, Eureka 12
Whitehall 18, Jefferson 6 (exhibition)