It was my first visit to Manchester University, as well as my first time through the communities of Lapel, Elwood, Swayze and Wabash, which are situated en route along Ind. 13, the highway I used to get there and back from Indianapolis.
I had a beautiful day to shoot -- sunny skies all day -- and the home team Spartans came away with an easy 55-7 win over Earlham College, the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener for both schools. The only photographic challenge was dealing with some pretty stiff winds that also played tricks on the players on the gridiron, especially on punts and kickoffs.
Well, I did make a challenge out of one other thing -- to photograph Spartacus, which since 2014 has been the name of the university team mascot, who previously was known as Sami Spartan. I'll include a few of my images from that endeavor with the next post of campus landscapes. Interestingly, there was a gentleman dressed up as a spartan warrior at the game as well. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a very good shot of him, but I did get him seated in the stands.
Because of the runaway score, there really wasn't one play I could single out for display as a lead-off photograph to highlight the shoot. Instead, I decided to pick the point of my favorite sequence from a photographer's perspective, which is when Manchester defensive back Taylor Anglemyer (30) stepped in front of Earlham wide receiver Will Davis and successfully fought for possession of the ball and the interception then ran it back 33 yards for a touchdown. The TD capped the Spartans' scoring for the game. A few other images from the sequence appear with the rest of the shots below.
As always, to view a bigger, sharper version of a photo, simply click on the image.
I spent a couple hours before kickoff to roam the compact campus and take my landscape photographs, which I'll include in a separate post. A full gallery of game images can be found at my site at SmugMug.
Next post: The Manchester University campus, Spartacus and other non-game-action photos from my visit to the campus.
Above: The focus in this motion-tracking pan image is on the ball, rendering the players into a blur or out of focus, but I really liked the ball-tracking captured in the eyes of Earlham defensive lineman Allen Eugene (44) as a Manchester pass zipped past him.
Above and next two below: A lot of the images you'll see in this post are part of play sequences, such as this one, in which Manchester quarterback Logan Haston (10) fires a pass to Evan Rice for a modest gain on the Spartans' first possession of the game.
Above and next three below: Moments after the Haston-to-Rice pass completion on the same drive, Manchester running back Austin Adams (7) reaches a point where he has to try and put a move on Earlham's James Johnson (11). He succeeded in getting past Johnson, but Quakers linebacker Mason Davis (29) quickly steps in to put a halt to the gain.
Above and next three below: Haston (10) caps the Spartans' drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Rice (4), who extends the ball as far as he can to make sure it crosses the plane of the goal line.
Above and below: On a subsequent possession in the game, Austin is brought down by Earlham defenders Davis (facing camera) and David Dyer (29).
Above and below: Manchester's defense had Earlham quarterback Brennan Laird (12) under pressure or on the run on quite a few pass plays. On the toss below, he overthrew intended receiver Jalen Kenner (10).
Above: Forced out of the pocket to run the ball, Laird couldn't get past defensive back Nathan Birk (26).
Above: This time, despite pressure from Manchester's Daniel Heim (39) and the obstacle of a Spartan lineman's waving hand, Laird got off a pass to Kenner (10), who is poised to make the reception.
Above: On special teams, Taylor Anglemyer makes the tackle on kick returner Kenner.
A Laird pass to Kenner (above) on the first drive of the second quarter is well out of the reach of lineman Chandler Miller (90). The Quakers gained 5 yards on the play. Several plays later (below), linebacker Tyler Katschke (22) brings down Laird after a short gain.
Manchester receiver Matt Wirick (1) is off to the races (above), nearing the end of an 80-yard pass play that put the Spartans' up 14-0 in the second quarter.
Above: Austin Adams is wrapped up by David Dyer (29) and Lajar Kelly (33) after a short gain.
Above: Haston takes off on a 12-yard scamper for a score that increases the Spartans' lead to 21-0.
Above: Earlham receiver Marcaus Cooper is brought down by Manchester's Nathan Birk (26) and Tyler Katschke.
Above and below: Adding to quarterback Laird's long, difficult day on the gridiron was this sack by Manchester defenders Jordan Kleber (84) and Stephen Coble (91).
Above: Matt Wirick punctuated a 33-yard pass play with this leap into the end zone for a touchdown with 1:34 left in the second quarter, giving the Spartans a 28-0 lead at halftime.
Laird felt pressure from Manchester defenders Daniel Heim (39), Jon Scribner (93) and Michael Hanmer (far right) on this off-balance throw (above) in the second half. The pass was complete, however, to Marcaus Cooper for 10 yards. On the next play (below), Laird eluded pressure from the rush and scampered right for a 15-yard gain before being forced out of bounds. Shortly after that, Laird would connect (second below) with receiver Wesley Hundley (6) for a 52-scoring pass, Earlham's only points of the game.
Above and next two below: Kick returner Dakota Nelson (5) escaped several tackles while navigating an 85-yard return of an Earlham punt for a touchdown halfway through the third quarter.
Manchester defensive coordinator Brad Higginson (above) conveys signals to his defensive squad on the field. It must have worked; moments later, Earlham quarterback Brennan Laird is under pressure again by Scribner (93) and Coble (91).
Laird did complete a pass to Wesley Hundley (above) before Taylor Anglemyer brought him down, but another Laird pass shortly thereafter sinks to the ground quickly before intended receiver, running back Levi Hansen (below), can get under it.
Back on offense and with a 42-14 lead, Austin Adams (above) is brought down by Marcus Villareal (39) after a rushing gain. In the three frames below, Dakota Nelson (5) is tripped up and brought down after catching a 19-yard pass from Logan Haston. On the very next play, Haston would connect again with Nelson, this time for 25 yards and a touchdown to boost the Spartans' lead to 49-7.
The picture above and the following seven images complete the series of photos showing Taylor Anglemyer's interception of a Matt Couch pass to Will Davis (85). The photo series starts with the image leading off the post. Anglemyer got a hand between the ball and Davis and snatched the loose ball before Davis, whose momentum was in the wrong direction, could turn around and make a play. Anglemyer's momentum, meanwhile, carried him toward the Spartan goal line, and as soon as he had the ball secure in his grasp, he took off for the right sideline to begin a 33-yard scamper for a touchdown. The photo series concludes with Anglemyer falling into the end zone, but not before Couch goes eye-to-eye with his interceptor in an attempt to stop a score. Couch was pushed out of Anglemyer's path by Spartan defensive lineman Chandler Miller.
With a 55-7 lead and victory secure, the Spartans and head coach Shannon Griffith (above, far right) relax while the offense runs out the clock (next two below) by having Tyler Smith (37) and Tijuan Johnson (20) run the ball.