NORTH MANCHESTER – The Bremen Lions football team scored all 28 of their points in the first half to end the Manchester Squires’ 2021 season, holding on for a 28-13 win in Class 2A Sectional 34 opening round action at Burk Field.

Bremen (7-3), who will visit LaVille this Friday, capitalized on two opportunities where the guests regained possession on Manchester’s side of the field.

The Lions, leading 14-7 in the second period, took possession on downs at the Squires 31-yard line with 9:32 on the clock, and used only 34 seconds to find paydirt on fullback Austin McKenzie’s 11-yard run.

“Bremen’s a good football team,” Squires head coach Alyx Brandewie said. “You call a good play, and a good team stops it.”

Bremen, now leading 21-7, seized its second opportunity in Manchester territory partially blocking a punt near the Squires’ 25-yard line. This time halfback Lance Moser scored from five yards out with 17 ticks on the first half clock. The Lions headed to the locker room with a 28-7 halftime lead.

Moser and his Lions drew first blood with a 12-yard scoring run using 4:42 on the game-opening drive.

Manchester’s offensive coaching staff did its homework, and instead of using the inside power-rushing of Braxton Ream, the peppered Bremen with flat passes and slants spreading the Lions for four straight completions before ream powered the Squires inside the red zone with an 11-yard run. Two p[lays later Squires quarterback Brock Casper found wide receiver Dylan Stroud for an eight-yard touchdown pass to even the score at seven apiece.

Bremen, who rushed for 190 net yards on the legs of Moser (112 yards) and McKenzie (79 yards), broke the tie and took the lead for good on Moser’s second of three TDs for the evening, a 22-yard off tackle sprint to the left.

Manchester came out with greater intensity and physicality in the second half, making a marked improvement in their run defense against the Lions.

The Squires took advantage of two Lion facemask penalties on their second drive of the third quarter to move the ball to the Bremen 25-yard line. Casper found receiver Memphis Woods for a slant past form right to left. Wood didn’t moss a beat in his stride, sprinting 15 yards after the catch toward the corner of the end zone with 7:27 remaining in the third quarter.

Manchester stifled Bremen’s running game for 53 yards on 22 carries for the remaining 19 ½ minutes of the contest.

“It really was a credit to our seniors,” Brandewie said of the second half defensive improvement. “They had a lot to say at halftime to rally the troops. They felt so much ownership in our program that they felt the need to get it right. Schematically it wasn’t crazy different. We were just super physical in the second half.”

The Squires, unfortunately, could not muster any offensive firepower during that same 19 ½ minute stretch. Bremen’s corners moved in more tightly to guard the flats forcing Casper to throw less accurate passes further downfield.

Manchester’s signal caller finished the game 22-35 for 174 yards. Casper completed his first nine pass attempts. Stroud led the receiving corps with 6 catches and 60 yards, followed by Seth Gaerte (8 rec. 39 yds), Wood (2-34), Caden Miller (2-22) and Ream (3-16). Ream added 24 yards on the ground on nine totes.

“I love this group of seniors,” Brandewie said of his 4-5 graduating Squires gridders. “We are extremely blessed to have them in our program. They’re world class kids who are going to world class people when they graduate.”