BASCOM - Leipsic sophomore Jordan Chamberlin eased his way out of coach Joe Kirkendall's doghouse and rushed for 103 second-half yards and an impact touchdown against Hopewell-Loudon Friday night.
The problem for the Chieftains was that Chamberlin wasn't the only offensive weapon. On this night, he wasn't even the focal point.
And that fact says as much as anything about the Vikings' season-opening 41-13 win in a battle of defending conference champions.
"Obviously, this was a lot bigger than we expected," said Kirkendall, whose Blanchard Valley Conference champions came off a season-opening loss to H-L last year to advance to a Division VI regional championship game.
"To come over here in Week One, we knew it would be a test," he said. "I was very happy with the way the defense played in the first half. That really set the tone and then our skill guys made plays, big plays for points."
That was especially true of the passing combination of Zach Kuhlman and Devin Mangas. Kuhlman hit 20-of-26 passes for 231 yards and four scores. Mangas latched onto 11 of those passes for 134 yards, including all three Viking touchdowns in a 21-0 first-half start.
|Leipsic||7||14||7||13 — 41|
|Hopewell-Loudon||0||0||6||7 — 13|
|L — Devin Mangas 27 pass from Zach Kuhlman (Mangas kick), 10:30|
|L — Mangas 23 pass from Kuhlman (Mangas kick), 5:36|
|L — Mangas 36 pass from Kuhlman (Mangas kick), 2:47|
|H-L — Mark Bouillon 1 run (kick blocked), 7:45|
|L — Jordan Chamberlin 43 run (Mangas kick), 6:34|
|L — Brady Schnipke 5 run (Mangas kick)|
|L — Aric Schroeder 6 pass from Kuhlman (Mangas kick), 5:08|
|H-L — Matt Huth 5 run (Kevin Coppus kick), 2:34|
|RUSHING: Leipsic — Chamberlin 13-126; Randy Avila 3-52; Schnipke 3-28; Milo Lopez 1-3; D. Mangas 1-2; Jordan Brown 1-1; Ross Mangas 1-(minus-3); Kuhlman 3-(minus-24).|
|Hopewell-Loudon — Cody Malone 16-127; Bouillon 9-59; Alec Gregg 8-38; Huth 2-6; Ben Bodart 1- (minus-2).|
|PASSING: Leipsic — Kuhlman 20-26-0-231. Hopewell-Loudon — Gregg 8-26-1-55; Bodart 0-2-0-0.|
|RECEIVING: Leipsic — D. Mangas 11-134; Schroeder 4-25; Derek Steffan 2-53; Chamberlin 2-16; Schnipke 1-3. Hopewell-Loudon — Bouillon 3-14; Jordan Stewart 2-10; Ryan Lommerse 1-21; Brennon Boes 1-6; Malone 1-4.|
Hopewell-Loudon coach Jeremy Nutter said in pregame that his team's ability to find Mangas would be key.
"We found him in the end zone a lot and that obviously wasn't a good thing for us," Nutter said. "He got behind us a few times and made us pay."
He did so immediately when the Vikes' first possession started on the H-L 27. That came about after a high snap went over quarterback/punter Alec Gregg's head.
Kuhlman threw a short pass to Mangas who got outside of the defense and scooted in for the score.
The Chieftains were unable to counter despite a couple of opportunities. First, Adam Foos recovered Chamberlin's fumble near midfield. Later, H-L took over the on the Leipsic 32 after a short punt.
But in both cases, the Vikings stood strong and took command with two quick second-period scores.
Mangas hauled in Kuhlman's 23-yard TD toss to the left corner to finish a 10-play, 81-yard drive with 5:36 to go in the half.
Moments later, after another H-L punt, Kuhlman tossed completions to Chamberlin, Derek Steffen and Aric Schroeder before finding Mangas behind two defenders for a 36-yard score.
"Devin Mangas is a good football player. He was second-team All-State last year and it was no accident," Kirkendall said. "And our quarterback made good decisions - throwaways, balls on time. If he plays like that, it's going to give us a lot of opportunities."
The Chieftains trimmed the margin to 21-6 with a power drive of 70 yards. Gregg broke for 18 yards, Cody Malone added 11 and then Mark Bouillon had a 40-yard burst to set up his own 1-yard scoring smash.
But Chamberlin took the edge off a potential rally with a 43-yard TD run to seal the win. He started the three-play, 65-yard trek with a 15-yard gain.
"I'm not ever said to be the most easy-going or laid-back individual," Kirkendall said. "We pulled (Chamberlin) for a series; we let him regroup. But we told him at the time 'You will be going back in.' You like to see the mental toughness of a young kid."
Nutter said his club, which had some positive moments with 228 rushing yards, including 127 on 16 carries by Malone, faces a similar challenge.
"They definitely came back and answered right away and for a young football team like us, that's a kick in the gut," Nutter said. "We have to learn how to recover from that. We need to grow up fast.
"We ran the ball well and I think there are things to build on here," he said. "You can tell our chemistry and timing (in the passing game) is just not quite there yet. The possibilities are there. We've just got to keep working at getting better every day."