With all eyes on Arch Manning
, Iowa State-bound athlete Xavier Townsend
stole the show Friday leading Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.)
to a dominating 49-24 victory at Newman (New Orleans)
before an ESPNU national television audience. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior rushed for two scores, caught another, intercepted a pass and added a 50-yard punt return — all in the first half — as the Buccaneers improved to 8-0 despite traveling almost 700 miles.
Townsend found the end zone on runs of 74 and 29 yards in the second half, finishing with 344 total yards and five touchdowns on just 19 touches.
With Kirby Smart of Georgia and other college coaches in attendance, a bigger, faster and more athletic Berkeley Prep team did what it wanted offensively while its defense harassed the No. 1 junior recruit in the country most of the night.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, made his biggest play of the night on the ground. He raced past a fleet Berkeley Prep secondary in the second quarter for a 68-yard touchdown on a designed quarterback run. He finished with 213 yards through the air and another score, completing 18 of 35 pass attempts. Manning was sacked three times.
Berkeley Prep came in having allowed just three points in its previous five games, including four shutouts. The Buccaneers showed off a wide variety of talent, including running back Travis Bates
(15 carries, 132 yards, TD), Notre Dame-bound defensive end Keon Keeley
(two sacks, interception) and Stanford-bound tight end C.J. Hawkins
But the night belonged to Townsend (15 carries, 234 yards), who capped a five-play, 80-yard opening drive with a 38-yard touchdown run, making it 7-0.
"It was a great trip overall having an opportunity to get out of state and play some other competition," Townsend told NOLA.com
On Newman's third play, Townsend intercepted Manning and then seemed to haul in a 50-yard bomb from Troy Reader
. But cornerback Austin-Jake Guillory
wrestled the ball away for an interception.
After three Manning incompletions, Townsend's long punt return set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Bates, making it 14-0 with 7:10 left in the first quarter.
Threatened to get swamped early, Manning took matters into his own hands with the brilliant 68-yard TD run up the middle to make it 14-7 with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
The teams traded turnovers and punts before the Buccaneers decided to grind it out, ripping off five runs for 61 yards capped by Townsend's second touchdown, a 14-yard run, making it 21-7 with 6:15 left in the second.
Newman (4-2) put together its best drive of the game, keyed by four completions for 50 yards by Manning, but it eventually stalled and Kearney Nieset
drilled a 34-yard field goal with 41 seconds left in the half, making it 21-10.
PHOTO GALLERY / Berkeley Prep-Newman (171 images by Parker Waters)
Instead of sitting on the lead, Berkeley Prep went for the kill. Bates ripped off a 29-yard run before Reader completed a 39-yard bomb to Townsend, who capped the drive and a spectacular first half with a 13-yard touchdown catch. That made it 28-10 at halftime.
Keeley made a brilliant interception to start the second half. The Buccaneers cashed it in seven plays later as Reader threaded the needle with a fourth-down, 11-yard touchdown to Hawkins, making it 35-10 with 7:07 left in the third quarter.
"We knew they were really, really good," Newman coach Nelson Stewart told NOLA. "That's as talented of a team as I've seen in quite some time."
The Greenies didn't let down. They traveled 80 yards in eight plays, capped by a 10-yard TD run by
. Manning had four completions on the drive for 69 yards, making it 35-17. After a turnover, Newman seemed to get back into it on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Will Randle
, to close to 35-24.
But on the next play from scrimmage and the last play of the third quarter, Townsend broke loose for a 74-yard touchdown to put things away. He tacked on a 29-yard TD burst early in the fourth quarter.
This was the second straight televised loss for the Greenies, who lost to St. Charles Prep, 12-7 last week. They host Cohen (New Orleans) next week. Stewart came away from the defeat upbeat considering the competition.
"I thought our kids played really hard," he said. "It was the finest game I've seen Arch Manning play. I've never seen him do what he did against a physically superior opponent. We hung in there."
Said Townsend: "(Newman) had a great team offensively and defensively so it felt great coming out here and getting the win."