LOGAN That old saying about not looking a gift horse in the mouth, well, Logan quarterback Jeff Manning showed he understands that concept completely.
When the Logan defense gave him the gift of three timely fumble recoveries, he and the Grizzlies' offense made the most of them in Logan's thrilling 38-33 win over Highland, Idaho the top-ranked football team in Idaho.
"Those fumbles were huge," said Manning. "They (defense) do their job; we do our job, and we'll win some games."
The first fumble was recovered by Chris Ransom, who jumped on a bobbled pitch on the first series of the game. That led to Logan's first touchdown, an 18-yard run by Manning. The 6-foot-4 quarterback, three plays after the fumble, just tucked the ball under his arm and darted through the defenders into the end zone.
After Logan went three-and-out on its third series, Highland running back Jerry Castillo fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Jackson Everton. Manning and company scored their second touchdown a nine-yard pass to Brennen Alleman.
The third fumble was the most critical with Logan leading 38-33 with less than five minutes left in the game. Everton, a junior, recovered that fumble as well.
Manning kept the ball on every play but one as the Grizzlies tried to just run down the clock and hang on for the win.
"That was fun," said Manning. "It was physical, tough, and when we really had to be at the top of our game we were. ... Everyone was just clicking when we had to."
One of the game's most thrilling plays came when Logan trailed 32-33 with 6:18 left in the fourth quarter. Manning connected with Stephen Gwynn for a 62-yard touchdown after several unsuccessful tries earlier in the game.
"He ran a great route," said Manning of Gwynn, who had two touchdown receptions in the game. "He allows me to just fling it up there."
When the Grizzlies found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter, Manning said they never panicked.
"Coach (Favero) said this game's not over," Manning said. "This is awesome. I can't say enough about my offensive line."
Jared Theurer, George Pauni, Darrick McIntosh, Taylor Lawin, and Eli Guido gave Manning plenty of time and protection to find receivers or holes to run though. Manning finished with 253 total offensive yards. He earned 114 yards rushing on 23 carries, while connecting 20 out of 35 tries through the air.
But the most satisfying aspect was redeeming himself and his teammates after a disappointing performance last season in Idaho.
"It's not really revenge, just that we played so poorly," he said. "Tonight we played the way we could."
Manning also earned a win over the highly sought-after quarterback, Taysom Hill. The 6-2 senior committed to Stanford in July, but was recruited heavily by BYU. Despite his success, which includes a 3A title, Manning has yet to have a Division I offer.
Favero said his team showed a lot more than athletic ability Friday night.
"We preach heart," said Favero. "It's a four-quarter game. We talk a lot about mental toughness. We have it, and I thought tonight showed that."
The Logan team starts region play next week against Grantsville. The Grizzlies' approach to the game will not change.
"We just try to get better every week, every day, every minute,"said Favero. "If we can do that, we'll win some football games."
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