MANHATTAN — It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Manhattan, where the No. 1-seeded Manhattan Tigers took on the No. 2-seeded Malta Mustangs in the Class B football quarterfinals.
Manhattan came into the game undefeated on the year and Malta had only one loss, which came against Fairfield, the No. 1 seed in the Northern B. The Mustangs were no match for the Tigers, however, as Manhattan rolled to a 50-0 win to get back to the State B semifinal round.
"Offensive line did a great job, we had some guys out due to the COVID protocol, some injuries, we had guys step up and make big plays that helped out a lot," Manhattan senior quarterback Caden Holgate said after the game.
The first points of the game wouldn’t come until 41 seconds left in the first when Holgate took the QB keeper into the end zone from 7 yards out. Manhattan went up 8-0 after the two-point conversion.
A few minutes into the second quarter Malta would fumble, and Manhattan recovered it in Mustangs territory. Holgate would then hit stud receiver Tate Bowler on a 20-yard pass for a touchdown. Manhattan went up 16-0 after the two pointer.
Up 22-0, Manhattan wanted to extend the lead two minutes before halftime and it did: Holgate passed to Wyatt Jones, who went over the defender to come down with the ball for a 3-yard touchdown. That put Manhattan up 29-0.
With just more than a minute left in the first half, the Tigers' defense forced Malta to punt, but the snap went over the Mustangs' punter's head, and Manhattan's Tate Bowler tackled him at the 5-yard line. On the very next play, Holgate found Gabriel Delgatty in the middle of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass. Manhattan went up 36-0, and it would be running clock the rest of the way.
In the fourth quarter, Manhattan didn't take its foot off the gas. Holgate bombed one deep, and Johnson came back for the pass and rumbled his way into the end zone. That put Manhattan up 43-0 and the Tigers went on to win 50-0.
"Corban, when we got single coverage and we see single coverage on him, we try to take advantage of that and get him some deep balls," said Manhattan head coach Chris Grabowska. "He had a couple of opportunities (Saturday), and he made a couple great plays for us."
Saturday's shutout of the Mustangs was the Tigers' fifth of the season.
"We just love to play defense," said Johnson, who is also a defensive back. "We come out, we want to hit people. We're just foaming at the mouth -- ready to hit someone and we just love to do it every game. We try to keep teams on one half of the field the entire time."
Next week, the Tigers will take on Glasgow in the semifinal round.
"I've seen some film on them," said Grabowska. "They're another team from the North, they're a big, physical team. They like to run the ball. They're a little more balanced than Malta was. We just got to be ready to shut down both phases of their game, as well."