Pittsfield Scriveners 10
Manhattan Riflemen 6
Manhattan traveled to Pittsfield late Wednesday evening as the Cooke brothers renewed the IFLs oldest rivalry with their first ever post-season meeting. The Scriveners and Riflemen were 2nd and 3rd in the NFL in points allowed this season and combined for a mere 20 points in their sole regular season meetings, so no one was expecting a shootout.
Pittsfield opened strong, a 10 play 35 yard drive plus a 15 yard roughing penalty moved them to the Manhattan 30. There, the usually reliable Bobby Jencks shanked a 37 yard FG attempt to the left. The teams exchanged punts and Pittsfield again moved on a short drive, this time a 7 play, 37 yard drive with the aid of a 5 yard penalty. Once they reached the Manhattan 30 where star HB Charley Taylor fumbled it away, leaving the game scoreless and the Scriveners cursing lost opportunities.
Manhattan did nothing and punted, their first four possessions of the game netted 16 yards and 4 punts. Pittsfield did the same, their first four possessions of the game netted 72 yards of offense, 2 punts, 1 missed FG, and a fumble in enemy territory. Manhattan finally got their offense in gear, moving 56 yards in 14 plays before settling on a 19 yard Jim Bakken FG and a 3-0 lead.
The teams exchanged punts once more and it looked like Manhattan would head into the half with the slim lead. Pittsfield took over at their own 23 with 1:00 to go in the half and appeared content to run out the clock, riding the legs of FB Les Josephson in a hurry-up mode they drove 41 yards in 7 plays to the riflemen 36 where Bobby Jencks atoned for his earlier miss by banging through a 43 yard FG to tie the game at 3-3 heading into the half. Manhattan moved well early in the third, driving 50 yards in 9 plays to the Pittsfield 27 where reliable Jim Bakken missed a 34 yard FG attempt.
Taking over at their 20 Pittsfield answered the drive with a 10 play 56 yard drive of their own. On 2nd and ten from the Manhattan 24 Billy Wade looked into the left flat for HB Charley Taylor but DRE Don Brumm (the defensive star of the game with 4 sacks) got a hand on it, tipped it up and then cradled it in his arms for the interception. Once again the Scriveners failed in enemy territory. Remembering the two TDs wiped out by penalty in the seasons finale the hometown crowd was growing restless, beginning to sense that today was just not in the cards for the Scriveners. The team had lost two games this season, 13-7 to Manhattan, and 7-6 to High Plains, in which the offense failed to put points on the board and it looked like the same script was being played out here.
Manhattan promptly returned the favor, Sonny Jurgensen looked deep downfield for Bernie Casey and FS Willie Wood snagged it and returned it to the Manhattan 39. Pittsfield only moved it 5 yards and Bobby Jencks missed a 41 yard FG to leave the game knotted at 3-3. With a little over three minutes left in the third quarter of what had become an extremely tense contest Manhattan embarked on what appeared to be the key drive of the game. The Riflemen marched 76 yards in 12 plays, taking over 5 minutes off the clock, reaching the Pittsfield 3. Faced with a 4th and 1 the Manhattan coach decided that a TD here could blow the game wide open. With his big unit in Manhattan ran FB Jerry Hill off tackle and DLE Doug Atkins shot through a gap like a cat and drilled Hill for a 1 yard loss. Still 3-3 in the fourth.
With Pittsfield backed up in their own end visions of a 5-3 score danced in both coaches heads. Pittsfield played it close to the vest and punted. Bobby Joe Green nailed a 46 yard punt and Brady Keys fumbled!! Manhattan recovered and breathed a sigh of relief, setting up at their own 45. The Riflemen moved 25 yards to the scrivener 30, this taking the FG on 4th and 1. Bakken was true on a 37 yarder and Manhattan had a 6-3 lead with about 9 minutes to go in the game. The teams exchanged punts and Pittsfield took over at their own 30, with desperation settling in with 3:36 left in the game. The Scriveners had been unable to pass all day a fierce Manhattan pass rush sacked Billy Wade 8 times on the day, how, in the games crucial moments, would the team be able to move?
A key moment came quickly. On third 7 Wade looked for TE Jim Gibbons, the offensive line held and Gibbons gained 11 yards for the first down. Taylor followed with a 6 yard run and Wade hit Gibbons for 7 and the ball was at midfield with 2:00 on the clock.
Wade hit Terry Barr in the flat for 9 yards and Pittsfield began to think of moving into position for a game-tying FG. Taylor ran for 6 and a first down behind the blocking of Vince Promuto. Wade looked to the end zone but settled on a dump off to Gibbons for 5. Pittsfield was now comfortably in range for a kick with just under a minute to go. On second and 5 Charley Taylor raced around left end for 15 yards to the Manhattan 8. With first and goal from the Manhattan 8, with: 45 seconds left, Pittsfield was thinking of the win. On the next play Wade looked into the end zone and hit Charley Taylor for the 8 yard TD and a 10-6 lead. The crowd was in frenzy.
The ensuing kick went 4 yards deep into the end zone, and Billy Martin returned it 34 yards. Now, I wasn't paying attention to the dice rolls, but Tom pointed out that he rolled a 2, TD, but it went to the Long Gain chart (TD 1-5, LG 6) and he got the worst of it!! Sonny went down a few times and the game was over. 10-6 Pittsfield!!
A wild, tight, tense, game. I was sure with my combination of missed kicks, turnovers in Toms end and inability to avoid his rush that the game wasn't in the cards for me, but I got the rolls in the end so sometimes the breaks even out.
Tom and I have a handful of games that we always talk about as memorable; games going back twenty years, and this one instantly takes a place alongside those. Everything you'd want from a playoff game. If you'd been watching this on TV you would not have been disappointed.
Sonny Jurgensen: 15-30 158 yards 1 int 3 sacks 51.8 rating
Billy Wade: 17-26 139 yards 1 TD 1 int 75.6 rating
Manhattan found tough going on the ground, 32 Att for 104 yds 3.3 avg
Peaks 10 - 46
Marsh 13 - 42
Pittsfield relied on the running game in key spots, 28 - 171 6.1 avg.
Josephson 14 - 110
Taylor 14 - 61
Bledsoe led Manhattan with 7 - 72 receiving
Gibbons led Pittsfield with 7 - 43 receiving
Taylor chipped in with 6 - 38 and THE Catch!
Don Brumm was huge for Manhattan, 4 sacks, 1 fumble rec, and 1 int.
Bob Lilly sacked Sonny twice for Pittsfield.
On to the NFL championship game for the Scriveners!!