LAFONTAINE - The Manchester Squires football squad enjoyed a memorable night of football with a 33-22 THree Rivers Conference win over host Southwood; their first over the Knights since 2012. Southwood’s Homecoming night was spoiled by a physical Manchester team who controlled the line of scrimmage from both sides of the ball.

“It was an incredible effort after a tough week we had last week (35-12 loss to Northfield),” Squires head coach Alex Brandewie said. “We didn’t have it out in the film room. We had a conversation of what we wanted our identity to be. We challenged them to be the best version of themselves they could be, and man were they ever tonight, and outstanding up front.”

The Squires’ offensive line includes Jordan Ayres, Justin Hall, Preston Duffy, Harrison Sturtsman, Zavier Sell, and tight end Caden Miller. This group paved the way for running Braxton Ream’s 186 yards on 28 carries. Garrett Sites added 46 yards on 11 totes mostly (44 in the second half).

Ayres was especially impressive pulling on trap plays to free Ream on long runs of 24 and 37 yards.

“(Ayres) started the year at fullback,” Brandewie noted. “But we had some guys get beat up, so we had to move him to) guard.”

Manchester quarterback Brock Casper was well protected all night, sack-free in fact, facilitating his ability to get the ball to speedster Seth Gaerte, who took slant passes and crossing routes adding almost half his yards running after the catch. Casper, a southpaw, finished the night 8-15 for 140 yards and found Gaerte for two scores. He did most of his damage to the Southwood linebackers and secondary with 129 of those yards coming in the first half of the fray.

Manchester’s 368 net yards of total offense compared put the guests ahead 33-7 in the fourth quarter before Southwood mustered two quick drives in the final stanza to make the score appear closer than the considerable edge the squires had most of the night.

The guests drew first blood at 6:35 in the first frame on Ream’s first touchdown, a ten-yard off-tackle power run.

The Knights only took 1:50 to counter with a score on QB Morgan Lloyd’s seven-yard scamper to tie the contest at seven each.

Manchester responded with Casper’s first TD pass to Gaerte (11:54 second period) from ten yards out to take the lead 13-7 (the extra point snap was botched), and the Squires never looked back. Gaerte finished the night with 102 yards on five receptions.

Gaerte’s 48-yard TD catch, another slant  where he ran 32 yards after the catch, at 4:24 in the second quarter pushed the Squires ahead 19-7 (kick failed), and with the scoring reception the 5’10” 175 lb. senior moved past 2,000 career receiving yards.

Ream’s 37-yard breakaway TD run on the opening drive of the second half moved the Squires ahead 26-7. Sites’s five-yard TD run at the 4:27 mark in the final period finished the evening’s scoring for Manchester.

The Squires were equally physical on defense, holding their hosts to 175 yards on 55 plays before setting up a prevent defense to Southwood exploited for two late-game scores.

“So proud of them,” Brandewie said of his defensive unit. “It’s been a tough place for us to come and play. There’s been a couple times we’ve come down here and they hung 50 on us in the last eight to ten years. They gave a world class effort.”

The Squires, 2-3 overall, 2-2 in the Three Rivers Conference hit the road again to South Whitley to meet league foe Whitko this coming Friday.