Manchester Academy, an 0-7 team, had every reason to lay down and drop their final two games of the season.
Their playoff chances were non-existent.
Injuries were piling up and forcing players to take up new positions.
They had been beaten down all season long by an extremely difficult conference and non-conference schedule.
But they didn’t quit.
What they did was battle when things looked the bleakest.
And the battle with Central Holmes waged on from the opening kickoff.
After taking an early lead, a series of scores for Central Holmes put Manchester down 24-15 at the half.
It was the perfect opportunity for another letdown by the Mavs, but they fought back to make it a 24-22 game.
A blocked punt extended Central Holmes’ lead to 30-22, but a safety soon brought Manchester back to 30-24.
It is hard to say that one possession, one drive, one play makes or breaks a game, but it seemed to happen here.
With a 4th and 10 on the final drive with very little time left, Peyton Saxton, hobbled by an ankle injury, came out of nowhere to snag a Kinkead Dent pass for a 32 yard gain, moving the chains.
After a couple more plays to get down to the 1-yard line, Dent snuck the ball in with 15 seconds remaining.
The game was tied at 30-30, and all of the pressure was now solely on Andrew Byrd to make the PAT.
His initial kick was good, but a false start penalty moved it back five yards for another attempt.
The second try was no good, but fortunately for the Mavs, an offsides penalty moved the ball back to its original spot for another try.
The final PAT try was good, and the Mavericks would hold on to win their first game of the year 31-30.
And all of Maverick nation celebrated.
Manchester head coach Kyle Wallace could not have been more proud of his team, and he believes the excitement that followed was well earned.
“We worked harder this week than we have all season,” Wallace said. “It was a testament to them not giving up. It was like Christmas, 4th of July, and birthdays all rolled into one. Our guys were very excited and understandably so. To finally put together a game like that was exciting.”
Peyton Saxton had a gutsy performance with four receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns on a high ankle sprain.
Wallace praised Saxton’s resilience and importance to the Manchester team.
“Peyton was limping the whole game, but he kept playing,” Wallace said. “The adrenaline was going, and he battled the whole time. He was the winning factor for us. He’s irreplaceable for us.”
Blayke Dendy had a huge game on both sides of the ball in the win with 87 yards rushing and 16 tackles.
Warner Griffin rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown on offense and racked up eight tackles and an interception on defense.
Thomas Turner had 10 tackles, three of which were for a loss, and a safety.
Kinkead Dent went 7-for-17 for 127 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and also added the game-winning rushing touchdown.
Bob Black added 20 yards rushing on the offensive side of the ball, while recording five tackles, two of which were for a loss, and an interception on defense.
Manchester will finish their season on Friday night when they travel down the road to Flora to face Tri-County Academy (7-2), who is coming off of a 42-7 loss at the hands of Canton Academy.
Kickoff between the Mavs and Rebels is set for 7 p.m.