SIDNEY — D.J. Manning ran around, over and past the Sidney Yellow Jackets and into the Roughrider record books.
Senior tailback D.J. Manning rushed for a St. Marys school-record 366 yards on 32 carries and found the end zone four times in St. Marys’ 41-21 romp over Sidney in the season opener on Friday night at Sidney Memorial Stadium.
Manning, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, returned with the greatest running performance at a school synonymous with great running backs and ground performances.
Manning is just the second Rider running back to eclipse 300 yards in a game, running past Scott Schlosser’s 314-yard performance against Celina in 1988.
“The line blocked and I just ran. They did their job and I did mine,” Manning said. “The line was getting onto their blocks, holding onto those blocks long enough for me to get through.”
The front line of tackles Seth Fitzgerald and Steve Elshoff, guards Tyler Hunt and Adam Neal , center Austin Rupard along with tight ends Jarrett Taylor and John Phillipe cleared the way for the record-setting night.
St. Marys head coach Greg Phillips said Manning got better and better as the game wore on.
“I think he ran best in the fourth quarter than any other time. He started to feel it.
“During the second scrimmage D.J. talked to me about being tired and I told him, ‘Hey, you can’t get tired in this offense. My tailback carries the ball 25 times a game,’” Phillips said.
Make that 32 times on Friday night.
“That’s St. Marys football,” Sidney first-year head coach and St. Marys Memorial grad Adam Doenges said. “They wore us down. They kept grinding it. That was my worst fear that they were going to keep hitting it and keep hitting it and keep hitting it and they grinded us down, plain and simple.”
St. Marys rushed for 501 yards on 49 carries on Friday.
While not old enough to remember some of the other performances on the list of top rushing games at St. Marys, Manning said watching other record setters like school rushing king Koby Frye and others like Kyle Puschel’s monstrous performance two seasons ago against Bath gave him some perspective about the record he set.
“I watched Koby (Frye) and watched a lot of the running backs growing up,” Manning said. “I always looked up them.”
Manning said he hopes this kind of performance propels the team that is senior-laden.
“We have a good group of seniors,” Manning said. “We’re close friends. Most of the team are seniors. We’re pretty pumped up for this year.”
Phillips earned his first win in his first game as a Roughrider coach.
“It’s good to get that first win and it’s good to be a part of this program,” Phillips said.
“People thought I was going to come in here and spread it out. I just want an efficient passing game and we’re still going to knock you off the ball and play football. That’s what St. Marys does.”
Manning ‘s 59 yard run on St. Marys’ first offensive possession set the tone. On the next carry from the two-yard line he ploughed in for the first score and a 7-0 lead.
Sidney tied the game at 7-7 with 1:32 left in the first quarter when Kaleb Dotson hit Devonte Chambers on a 36-yard touchdown pass to cap a 10-play drive late in the first quarter.
Brad Sawmiller’s 12-yard touchdown run up the gut gave St. Marys a 13-7 lead that it took to the half.
St. Marys’ physical running game leaned on the Yellow Jackets in the second half.
Manning’s back-up Jared Knous entered the game and the speedy tailback scored a touchdown on a 15 yard jaunt off right tackle to make it 21-7 after a Manning two-point conversion run.
Manning closed out the third quarter with another touchdown from two yards out following a 30-yard run to set up a first and goal. St. Marys led 27-7 with 1:50 left in the third quarter.
A halfback pass from Sidney running back Devonte Chambers to Zyler White went for a 35-yard score to cut into the lead at 27-13.
One play after a failed Sidney onside kick attempt, Manning busted off a 37-yard touchdown run to stretch the lead to 35-14 following a two-point conversion run by Manning.
Sidney responded with a Jordan Fox to Troy Rosengarten 20-yard touchdown completion.
St. Marys wrapped up the scoring with a Manning one-yard run with 8:50 left in the game to put St. Marys up 41-21.
The Roughriders travel to Kenton to face the three-time defending Western Buckeye League champions next Friday night in a league-opener.
The 41 points scored by the Roughriders are the most they’ve put up since defeating Elida 68-20 in 2008.
SM 7 6 14 14 — 41
SID 7 0 6 8 — 21