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Former Canisius College hoops star Chris Manhertz scores first NFL touchdown

Carolina Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz became the first former Canisius College athlete to score a touchdown in professional football since Tom Colella in 1948 for the Cleveland Browns of the old All-America Football Conference.

Manhertz’s 50-yard touchdown came on a trick play halfback pass from Christian McCaffrey in the Panthers’ 12-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

It was Manhertz's second reception of the season – the other was a 2-yard catch in Week 6 – and fifth of his career. He has only been targeted four times this season and 10 times in his career.

Manhertz, who is 6-6 and 255 pounds, played for the Golden Griffins basketball team from 2010 to 2014 and is fourth in career rebounds at the school. He also was a rare three-time captain.

His journey to the NFL was unique in that he had never played organized football before he had a tryout with the Bills in April 2014, shortly after his college basketball career ended. Manhertz worked at his craft, learned the game and continued to develop.

He made the Saints' opening 53-man roster in 2016 and later was claimed off waivers  by the Panthers, where he has remained since.

"It was a play we practiced a few times this week," Manhertz told the Panthers website. "Given the opportunity, down and distance, I had a good feeling it was going to be called," he said. "I think it was just a matter of execution. Christian did a good job of running the ball. I just finished it."

Manhertz added that he appreciated the faith the coaches showed in him to call the play.

"It means, from a coaching standpoint, that they trust me and they have faith that we're able to execute this play when it matters the most," he said.

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