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Hayden Johnson school-record passing yards lead Manheim Township over Cumberland Valley, 37-27

Written by: on Saturday, November 18th, 2023. Follow Sean McBryan on Twitter.


Manheim Township quarterback and Lehigh commit Hayden Johnson broke the program record for career passing yards, moved into fourth on the all-time Lancaster-Lebanon League yardage list, and lifted the top-seeded Blue Streaks to a 37-27 victory over No. 4 Cumberland Valley Friday night in a District 3 Class 6A semifinal in Neffsville.

Johnson passed for 283 yards and three scores — two to Monmouth commit Landon Kennel — to move his total touchdown passes on the season to 47 with zero interceptions. Johnson also rushed for a team-high 90 yards.

“We’re starting a new group up front and [Johnson] is responsible for making the right reads and helping them get in the right position,” said Manheim Township head coach Mark Evans, who picked up his 100th win with the Blue Streaks Friday. “His work ethic is second to none. He’s got a Power 5 arm and Lehigh is getting a steal. If he doesn’t compete to be a starter right off the bat there I’ll be shocked.”

Manheim Township moves on to face either No. 2 Harrisburg or No. 3 Central York, which play Saturday at 1 p.m., in the district championship. It’s the second straight appearance for the Blue Streaks, who fell to Harrisburg 44-6 last season but beat the Cougars 38-6 in Week 3 this season.

“It’s definitely been a key motivator for our team and it’s just good to be back and know that we have the opportunity in our hands,” Johnson said of returning to the district final. “We can control our outcome and we know it’s the biggest game of our lives. Whether it’s Harrisburg or Central York, we know it’s going to be a really good team. We have to prepare and come out and play our game for sure.”

The Blue Streaks (12-0) last won a district championship in 2017, a 24-21 victory over Cumberland Valley.

Manheim Township has had Cumberland Valley’s number as of late, knocking the Mechanicsburg side out of the district playoffs for the second season in a row. The Blue Streaks beat the Eagles 37-31 in last year’s quarterfinals and beat them 35-6 in Week 1.

But the Eagles (7-5) was a different squad coming into Friday as winners of six consecutive games after a 1-4 start.

“We knew they were going to be a different team,” Johnson said. “We knew they were on a hot streak. We just had to switch the game plan a little bit.”

Johnson hit a wide-open Lex Haberbosch for a 35-yard score with 9:27 left in the first quarter on a trick play where the ball was pitched back to the quarterback after a double reverse.
Don Rodriguez picked off Cumberland Valley QB Grant Shepley and returned it 31 yards for a score on the next possession to give Manheim Township 14-0 just 4:13 into the game.

Bryce Staretz, who finished with 166 yards, pounded in a 2-yard score with 4:39 left to get the Eagles on the board. Staretz had a 64-yard run on the drive to set Cumberland Valley up inside the Township 10.

Johnson hit Kennel for a 7-yard TD strike with 58.4 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Blue Streaks a 20-7 lead.

Shepley hit Caiden Pines, who finished with 156 receiving yards, for a 46-yard TD 1:26 into the second quarter to make it a one-score game.

Township responded with Taylor Veilleux’s 1-yard score with 7:45 left to cap a six-play, 82-yard drive. Johnson dazzled on the drive with his escapability in the pocket and a 67-yard strike to Daryus Dixon.

The Blue Streaks pulled ahead 34-13 after Johnson hit Kennel for a 6-yard TD with 3:05 left.

The Eagles put together a crucial 86-yard drive capped by Staretz’ 6-yard score with 36.5 seconds left before the break. Shepley hit Pines for a 45-yard gain on the drive.

Cumberland Valley got the ball to start the second half and capitalized on Shepley’s 9-yard TD pass to Adam Somerville with 5:55 left in the third quarter to again draw within a score.

After punts by each team, the Blue Streaks moved the ball down to the Cumberland Valley 8 before the drive stalled. Hunter Nguyen knocked in a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead to 37-27 with 4:55 left in the game.

Township’s Nick Palumbo recovered a fumble after Cumberland Valley got down to the 30 and the Blue Streaks picked up two first downs before they were able to run out the clock and clinch their second straight appearance in the district final.

“We’re excited to be back there,” Johnson said. “We just have to put it all out on the field.”

Manheim Township

Passing: Johnson 16-20-0–283 (3 TDs).
Rushing: Johnson 12-90, Clancy 17-61, Veilleux 1-1 (TD), Acudi 1-0, Team 1-(-2).
Receiving: Kennel 5-42 (2 TDs), Haberbosch 3-61 (TD), Palumbo 2-42, Wolfe 2-28, Clancy 2-27, Dixon 1-67, Vazquez 1-16.
Penalty: 7-67.
Punt-avg: 1-24.
First downs: 20.
Fumbles-lost: 2-1.

Cumberland Valley
Passing: Shepley 9-18-1–186 (2 TDs).
Rushing: Staretz 25-166 (2 TDs), Lloyd 1-4, Green 1-0, Shepley 2-(-2).
Receiving: Pines 6-156 (TD), Buzalka 1-16, Somerville 1-9 (TD), Green 1-5.
Penalty: 7-57.
Punt-avg: 2-35.
First downs: 13.
Fumbles-lost: 3-1.

Scoring Summary
Manheim Township (12-0)
20 14 0 3 – 37
Cumberland Valley (7-5) 7 12 8 0 – 27

1st Quarter
MT-Haberbosch 35 pass from Johnson (Nguyen kick) – 9:27
MT-Rodriguez 31 interception return (Nguyen kick) – 7:47
CV-Staretz 2 run (Rice kick) – 4:39
MT-Kennel 7 pass from Johnson (Nguyen kick blocked) – 0:58

2nd Quarter
CV-Pines 46 pass from Shepley (Rice kick blocked) – 10:34
MT-Veilleux 1 run (Nguyen kick) – 7:45
MT-Kennel 6 pass from Johnson (Nguyen kick) – 3:05
CV-Staretz 6 run (Rice kick missed) – 0:36

3rd Quarter
CV-Somerville 9 pass from Shepley (Staretz run) – 5:55

4th Quarter
MT-Nguyen 25 FG – 4:55

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