Manchester University begins HCAC play Saturday

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The 2013 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference slate opens for Manchester University Saturday, Sept. 21. The Spartans take an 0-2 overall record to Branigin Field at Faught Stadium at Franklin College for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.

Game specifics: Fans, friends and alumni of Manchester University athletics can access a live video/audio feed and live statistics via, the Internet home of the Spartans.

Series History: Franklin leads 34-20-1 all-time which includes a current string of 15 consecutive victories … The Spartans' last win occurred during the 1997 campaign …. A year ago, MU battled their league rivals throughout, eventually falling 48-27 at Carl W. Burt Memorial Field in North Manchester.

Spartan Shorts: Through two weeks, Coach Shannon Griffith's squad has strong standing on the HCAC statistics report. Senior quarterback Nick Williams (Fort Wayne, Ind.) is among the top five in passing (203.5) and rushing (51) yards per game as well as rushing touchdowns where he tied for first with two. Freshman wide receiver Dakota Nelson (Fairfield, Ind.) is part of the top five in receiving yards per game (86), while the senior linebacking duo of Zach Dashner (South Bend, Ind.) and Dylin Kennedy (North Manchester, Ind.) are in the same area in tackles per game (Kennedy – 14/Dashner – 10.5) … The Black and Gold's statistic totals have transferred well onto the NCAA Division III report, too, with three categories listed in the top 20. Kennedy is within the top 10 in solo (11) and total tackles per game, while the team's 20.25 yards per punt return are 11th best … Williams is in the midst of an impressive personal streak in regards to the passing game. He's thrown for 100-or-more yards in nine of his last 10 appearances, while his 261-yard effort against Kalamazoo College of Michigan last weekend, which earned him team Offensive Player of the Week honors, was a personal single-game high … Other Player of the Week award winners from the Kalamazoo game were sophomore defensive lineman Michael Hammer (Remington, Ind.) who was named Defensive Player of the Week due to registering a sack, forced fumble, pass break-up and two unassisted tackles; junior fullback/tight end Michael Love (Bloomfield, Ind.) who garnered the Special Teams Player of the Week honor and freshman wide receiver Drake Landes (Garrett, Ind.) and freshman defensive lineman Billy Pigg (Veedersburg, Ind.) who were selected as Gold offense and defense Players of the Week … The Spartans were picked for a third-place finish on the annual HCAC coaches' preseason poll, released early last month. MU compiled 54 ranking votes, trailing only preseason favorite Franklin and runner-up selection Hanover.

Back to the Burt: Manchester University returns home for a second set of back-to-back contests Saturday, Sept. 28, and Sat., Oct. 5. The Black and Gold host Rose-Hulman next weekend and then welcome Bluffton the following Saturday as part of Homecoming 2013 festivities.