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Rockets are 1st rate in 2nd half

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Big plays by Manica, Shipley power victory

By Josh Cook

BUCKNER – The Shelby County football team’s offense blasted off in the second half Friday night.

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Leading just 6-3 at intermission, the Rockets outscored host Oldham County, 27-13, afterwards for a 33-16 victory.

“We didn’t make too many adjustments [at halftime],” Shelby County Coach Todd Shipley said. “I just think we did a better job, and our backs ran hard.

“In the first half there would be a missed block or a bad read. I just think we eliminated a lot of that in the second half.”

The Rockets (4-1) rolled up 242 yards of total offense (382 for the game), including 210 (338 for the game) on the ground, after halftime as they spoiled the Colonels’ Homecoming.

Senior wingback Chase Manica played the role of biggest spoiler. He rushed for 102 yards, including touchdowns of 30 and 54 yards, and also caught a 15-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Zach Shipley – all in the final two quarters. Manica finished the game with seven carries for 125 yards (17.9 yards per rush).

“We did a great job of blocking, and Chase ran extremely well, getting downhill and reading his blocks,” Coach Shipley said.

Additionally for Shelby County, Shipley rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another TD, and senior fullback Justin Stewart ran for 88 yards (71 in the first half).

“Our offensive line, we really challenged them last week, and they responded,” Shipley said.

On the flip side the Rockets, who allowed Oldham County to score 48 points last season, gave up just two touchdowns and 278 yards of total offense.

“Overall we did a good job of catching their backs out of the backfield,” Shipley said.

The first half was definitely defensive-minded.

Shelby scored the lone touchdown of the first half on its second possession. The drive began with a 2-yard run by Manica, then was followed by a 12-yard pass from Shipley to Dalton Thompson (the quarterback’s only completion of the first half). Next came a steady diet of Stewart, who had five consecutive runs. That set up Shipley’s 40-yard touchdown, on an option, around the left end with 3:10 to play in the first quarter.

“It may have been his best game as an option quarterback,” Coach Shipley said of his son. “He had to make a lot of adjustments at the line, and he did a pretty good job.”

Oldham answered Shelby’s score with one of its own. On their ensuing possession the Colonels drove to the Rockets 12 before a holding penalty pushed them back. But Sean Nuerenberger’s 30-yard field goal made it 6-3 with 10:44 remaining in the second quarter.

Oldham later took over at Shelby County’s 25 after a long punt return by Jacob Taylor, but after three plays netted no yards, Nuerenberger was wide left on a 43-yard field try.

Class 6A Oldham County (2-4) took a 12-10 lead on Brett Strnad’s touchdown pass with 6:29 to play in the third quarter, but that was short-lived.

The Rockets reached the end zone 1:19 later on Shipley’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Manica. Shipley finished 4-for-8 (each completion to a different receiver) for 44 yards.

The fourth quarter was almost all Shelby, 21-6.

Manica’s 30-yard touchdown run was followed by Shipley’s 10-yard TD (“I told him this week, ‘Quit trying to dance and just go,’” Todd Shipley said) with 3:30 to play.

The Colonels tacked on a touchdown with 1:13 remaining, but 10 seconds later Manica’ 54-yard TD sprint sealed it for Shelby.

“He went untouched,” Shipley said. “It looked like he was running the 40-yard dash.”

It was the third consecutive victory for the Rockets, who play at cross-town rival Collins at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

“We’re getting better every week, and that’s a great thing,” Shipley said. “It’s starting to come together.”