When the Hanover Rhinos took the field against the Franklin County for their sixth game of the 2015 season, they owned a sterling record against the blue-and-orange clad Tigers.
Hanover had won the two previous meetings (2012, 2014) by a combined score of 96-0.
The Rhinos, who were 1-4 on the season, needed to re-channel their previous dominance on this sunny day at Manheim Adventure Park to stay in the playoff race.
Franklin County would not be intimidated by the Rhinos’ intensity, and they threw a series of body-blows on the first drive.
Then, the Tigers stunned the Rhinos with a haymaker.
Quarterback Matt Wade rolled right to escape the oncoming Shawn Brady, and threw a 30-yard touchdown off his back foot to Garrett Davis.
Not only had the Tigers scored for the first time in history against Hanover, they had a 7-0 lead.
Undaunted, Hanover responded with a big play.
Near midfield, Bob Moore bounced around in the pocket like Aaron Rodgers, staying comfortably away from two rushers. Moore rolled right, then spotted Jay Collins with his hand in the air downfield.
Moore released a majestic pass, and Collins ran past corner Darnell Bruce, before stopping at the 25 to haul in the ball.
Collins raced between the hashes for a touchdown to make it 7-6.
Hanover lined up to go for two, and Moore rolled right before hitting Brady wide-open in the back of the end zone.
The teams traded defensive stops, with Hanover coming up empty on a fourth-down throw to the end zone that was broken up by Davis, early in the second quarter.
Franklin County drove inside the Hanover 40 on the next drive, but Kody Taylor recovered Wade’s fumble to end the possession.
Hanover head coach Adam Bostian turned to the running game. Jeremy Knaub and Ron Rohrback churned their way down the field, but then, disaster nearly struck.
Moore stood in the pocket and lifted a pass toward Chase Scharf at the goal line, in triple coverage. Davis flew into Scharf like a heat-seeking missile, and put his helmet on the ball.
The pigskin popped high into the air, reminiscent of Glen Edwards’ hit in Super Bowl IX. However, instead of the defense coming up with the interception, Collins glided under the ball in the end zone from the backside of the play for an easy 35-yard touchdown.
Alex Elliott kicked the extra point, giving Hanover a 15-7 lead.
Franklin County threatened that lead, driving to the Hanover 40 once again, but the game-clock truncated the Tigers’ possession.
On the last play of the half, Wade’s hail mary pass was knocked down at the goal line by Bashawn McFadden.
Hanover took the ball first in the third quarter, and used Jeremy Knaub like a battering ram to move the ball down the field, settling inside the Franklin County red zone.
Moore went to hand the ball off again, but pulled it out at the last second, fooling the defense, and he hit Brady with a short touchdown pass to up the lead.
Elliott again kicked the extra point to make the lead 22-7.
Kody Taylor’s sack helped short-circuit the next Tigers possession. Hanover stopped them on fourth down at the Franklin County 35.
Hanover was unable to capitalize, as Collins dropped a would-be touchdown while going to the ground.
Wade hooked up with Davis on a long completion into Hanover territory as the third quarter expired.
Collins’ interception of Wade stole the fire from the Tigers, and Bob Moore’s touchdown pass to Taylor snuffed out the dying embers of Franklin County’s comeback hopes.
Hanover moved to 2-4 with the 28-7 win.
Gui Lazar provided one of the highlights of the season when he took on a man three times his size, Franklin County’s Chris Thomas, and dropped him on a kickoff.
Video Credit- Brock Lane.
Taylor became the first player in Hanover Rhinos history to have an offensive touchdown and a sack in the same game.
Davis had a standout performance for Franklin County. He hauled in 4 passes for 85 yards and the touchdown, and added 3 pass deflections, an interception, and a forced fumble.