MYRTLE BEACH — Trevor Manuel had a fine senior season this fall for Huntingdon College, a small Division III program from Montgomery, Ala., but he’s exceeded even his own expectations these last couple of weeks while punctuating his collegiate football career with yet a few more final highlights.
While rushing for three touchdowns and being named the most valuable player of the D-III Senior Classic last week in Salem, Va., Manuel impressed organizers enough to also earn a special invite to Myrtle Beach this week for the FCS level’s all-star game.
And he did it again.
Manuel carried the ball three times for 25 yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime Saturday night as the South team edged the North, 20-17, in the FCS Senior Scout Bowl before a couple hundred spectators at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium. That was enough to earn him MVP honors from this game as well, completing a memorable week and a half for the small-school standout.
“It feels good, man,” Manuel said afterward. “Because I’m not going to say that I wasn’t feeling confident in myself, but it was just kind of rough subbing each series and some series I was getting in I wasn’t getting a good quality rep. So to help my team get a big win, it feels great.”
Manual finished with 44 yards in nine carries, but he seized the game for the South in the biggest moment to cap a wild ending.
The South team looked poised to break a 14-14 tie in the final minutes as it got as far as the North’s 5-yard line, but Tennessee-Martin quarterback Derek Carr lobbed an ill-advised pass to the back of the end zone on third-and-2 and American International’s Markell Rice intercepted it for the North with 1:47 to play.
After a quick defensive stop, the South got the ball back with 1:10 to play and again moved swiftly down the field, reaching the North 22 before calling timeout with 1 second remaining to line up for a potential game-winning field goal. But Tennessee-Martin’s Cody Sandlin missed the 39-yard attempt as the game went to overtime.
The North started the extra session with a 45-yard field goal from Josh Thiel, of St. Francis (Pa.), and the South finished it by putting the ball in Manuel’s hands. He opened with a 13-yard run and followed with carries of seven and five yards to find the end zone and end the game.
“That young man scored three touchdowns in an all-star game, leading rusher in the game and we said, ‘This kid needs to be measured against the FCS,’” said George St. Lawrence, who organizes both the D-III Senior Classic and the FCS Senior Scout Bowl. “We had enough running backs, we didn’t need to bring him, but we said, ‘Let’s measure his talent.’ Because we saw his ability.”
Gardner-Webb’s Kenny Little led the South team with 65 rushing yards and a touchdown in 10 carries, while Carr completed 15-of-30 passes for 162 yards and that interception and Austin Peay’s Devin Stark had a game-high 66 receiving yards on four catches. Defensively, linebacker Jordan Campbell (New Mexico Highlands) had four tackles and an interception and Charleston Southern’s Charles James was credited with a blocked field goal.
For the North, Graceland running back Andrew Gayles had a game-high 75 rushing yards in 18 carries, Delaware State quarterback Nick Elko completed 10-of-17 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns and his Hornets teammate Travis Tarpley had five catches for 46 yards and a score.
Of local note, Coastal Carolina linebacker Andrae Jacobs and receiver Akeem Wesley (one catch for 16 yards) represented the Chanticleers on the South team.
While the ending was ripe with intrigue, the game lacked big names as the rosters contained only two players who competed this season for ranked FCS teams this while a number of players from sub-FCS programs were included.
St. Lawrence, however, was pleased and confirmed the game will return to Myrtle Beach against next December.
“It wasn’t raining on this parade,” he said on the field as a light mist continued to fall. “There might have been some rain in the air, but ... wow, awesome, awesome football game.”
Division II 28, NAIA 21
The Division II all-stars edged the NAIA all-stars in the day’s earlier game as Southern Virginia’s Cameron Williams caught a go-ahead 69-yard touchdown pass from St. Olaf (Minn.) quarterback Dan Dobson with about two minutes remaining.
Williams had four catches for 101 yards to lead the D-II team while Dobson completed 10-of-18 passes for 138 yards, one touchdown and one interception and Lance Johansen (Jamestown) rushed for 68 yards and a score in 11 carries.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.