MANSON - Neil Flattery's opening week struggles on the football field were quickly forgotten here Friday night, as the St. Edmond senior took his first carry of the game against Manson Northwest Webster for an 86-yard touchdown.
Flattery added another 38-yard score later in the contest, accounting for a career-high 193 yards in leading the 10th-ranked (Class 2A) Gaels to a 40-13 victory over the Cougars on a rain-soaked evening.
Last week in a 28-0 triumph over Bishop Garrigan, Flattery was held to just 28 yards on 15 carries. There would be none of that for the multi-sport St. Edmond (2-0 overall) standout, as he surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for his career. Flattery now has 1,132 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"I felt so much pressure because I didn't have a very good game (against Garrigan)," Flattery said. "It felt good to get that one good run because I needed it for my confidence. It was a big hole, though, that the offensive line made for me.
"Our run game is the base of our offense, so when we get that going, we are a lot more effective."
After being limited to just 109 yards on the ground of a stout Golden Bear defense, St. Edmond amassed 264 on 36 totes vs. the Cougars (1-2). Aaron McElroy added 72 yards and three touchdowns, showcasing his breakaway speed once again. The fleet-footed junior now has five touchdowns through just two games.
"We knew we had to stop their belly offense, and we weren't able to do that," Manson NW head coach Jeff Anliker said. "We were expecting them to run (the ball) until we shut them down because I have seek (St. Edmond head coach) Dick (Tighe) coach a lot of games and if you don't stop them, they are going to keep hammering you until you do.
"Their (St. Edmond) speed killed us. McElroy is fast, and as a team they are fast. I think those boys will be in the playoffs (at the end of the year)."
Chris Stuhrenberg led the Cougars with 179 yards rushing and a touchdown, improving his career rushing total to 994. Jesse Partlow added 66 yards and Brody Eischeid caught an 18-yard TD pass from Tucker Herzberg.
Manson Northwest Webster actually outgained St. Edmond overall, 324-261, but the Gaels had big play after big play, including a 65-yard punt return by Nick Clark.
"I thought we really did a nice job of executing our offense," said Tighe, who has won 384 games in his career. "And I was pleased to see our kids get rewarded for their efforts. Nick's punt return really showed just what kind of athlete he can be."
McElroy found the end zone three times in the first half, breaking through for 29-, 34- and 9-yard scores.
A week after finding plenty of success through the air, the St. Edmond passing game was non-existent, as the Cougars bottled up Clark, who had 165 yards receiving a two touchdowns in Week 1.
"I thought Brody did a nice job on Clark," Anliker said. "We really tried to take their base offensive plays away and wanted to take Clark away. We (limited Clark), but we just couldn't match their speed."
Ross Taets led the Gael defense with two sacks and a blocked punt, while Dillon Nelson and Teddie Harvey each had a sack. Clark also recovered a fumble.
"It is a pretty big rivalry," Flattery said, "so it feels good to pick up a win (against Manson NW)."
St. Edmond opens district play next Saturday when they host defending state runner-up North Polk at Dodger Stadium. Last year, the Gaels lost to the Comets, 28-24.
"It is going to be a big game," Tighe said. "They are a big team and we are going to need to improve on a few things (from Friday) if we want to win."
Manson Northwest Webster plays host to Hinton on Friday.
Contact Dana Becker at (515) 573-2141, or by email at email@example.com
Rushing - St. Edmond: Neil Flattery 17-193, Aaron McElroy 8-72, Matt Stumpf 1-27, Vinnie Harvey 3-9, Alex Mericle 1-6, Jimmy Averill 1-2, Hank Crimmins 4-1, David Flattery 1-(minus) 1. Manson Northwest Webster: Chris Stuhrenberg 17-179, Jesse Partlow 21-66, Dylan Dorage 2-6, Brennan Thompson 1-1, Tucker Herzberg 11-(minus) 21.
Passing - St. Edmond: D. Flattery 1-7-(minus)-3-0. Manson Northwest Webster: Herzberg 10-20-93-0.
Receiving - St. Edmond: McElroy 1-(minus) 3. Manson Northwest Webster: Brody Eischeid 4-39, Trevor Schreier 2-30, Stuhrenberg 2-10, Partlow 1-7, Dorage 1-5.