Town Crier Sports Staff
Trumann didn't have the football the entire game, but it must have seemed that way to Manila, as the Wildkittens kept the ball over 25 of the 32 minutes played en route to a 26-18 victory over the improving Lions Saturday morning at Trumann.
While Trumann's four touchdown drives consumed over three fourths of the game, Manila's scores came on two short touchdown drives and a long kickoff return.
Trumann scored first after recovering a Manila fumble at the Wildkitten 36 yard line. Denarius Chandler bolted five yards for the score and quarterback Blaike Jones ran in the two point conversion to give Trumann an 8-0 lead with 7:01 left in the first half. The 12-play 64 yard drive was highlighted by a 17-yard run by Chandler and a 19 yard pass from Jones to wide receiver Anthony Byrd.
Manila struck back when quarterback Jared Burkes connected on a 31-yard strike to wide out Dustin Hill at the 4:31 mark of the second quarter. The two point conversion play failed, leaving Trumann with an 8-6 advantage.
Trumann answered with their second touchdown of the morning when Chandler bulled his way in from a yard out, giving the Wildkittens a 14-6 lead with 2:01 left in the half. Jones' 34-yard completion to Anthony Rusher was the key play as Trumann marched 55 yards in just six plays.
Manila's next drive ended quickly when a Burkes pass was picked off by Trumann's Hunter Moye at the Lion 36 yard line. The Lion defense rose to the challenge and stopped the Wildkittens as time ran out in the first half with Trumann holding an eight point edge.
Trumann got the ball first to begin the second half and Jones engineered an 11 play, 65 yard touchdown drive, capped off by fullback B.J. Carter's one yard touchdown plunge which gave the Wildkittens a 20-6 lead. Jones accounted for 64 yards on the drive as the Wildkittens ate up almost the entire quarter, scoring with 1:05 left in the third period.
Manila retaliated when Hill electrified the crowd with a 75-yard kickoff return to pull the Lions to 20-12, with just 45 seconds left in the third quarter. Hill fielded the ball at his own 25 yard line, weaved his way through a couple of would be tacklers and raced down the left sideline for the touchdown. Manila's two point conversion attempt was no good.
Trumann recovered Manila's on-side kick and took over at the Lion 45 yard line. Jones again drove the Wildkittens to pay dirt, and capped off the drive with a five yard touchdown pass to Anthony Byrd with 4:52 left in the game. The two point conversion pass failed, as Trumann held a 26-12 advantage.
Manila refused to give up, and scored a touchdown of their own when reserve quarterback Stetson Ausbrooks found Seth Towles behind the Wildkittens secondary for a 49-yard touchdown pass to pull Manila to 26-18 with 3:17 left in the game. Manila's two point conversion attempt failed.
Manila attempted another onside kick and Trumann again came away with the ball at the Lion 49 yard line. The Wildkittens ran out the clock and held on for the 26-18 victory.
"I know Manila has a first year program going on, but they don't play that way," said Trumann Junior High Head Coach Scott Brown. "Coach Doke (Toby) has them going in the right direction. They played hard. They are well coached, but I wouldn't expect anything else from them. They have a lot of potential. Manila is going to have a good program, I can tell you that right now. But I thought my team played hard and executed pretty well today. I think we have a chance to be pretty good next year. It was good to get to play my eighth graders today. If we can stay healthy and stay together, we have a chance to be good."
"Obviously, we still have more room for improvement," said Manila Head Coach Toby Doke. "Today is the first time we've had a chance to win a football game. Trumann made it tough on us in the second half. We got the ball offensively one time in the second half. We couldn't stop them. They worked the clock and we couldn't get the ball back. I felt like we could have scored if we could have just gotten the ball. I thought our quarterbacks played well. In June of this year, they couldn't even throw a spiral and today both of them threw touchdown passes. But we have to get more physical defensively and tackle better. We aren't taking good angles and tackling well. We will be able to develop that by getting in the weight room. That doesn't happen over night. This is a tough sport."
Statistically for Trumann, Jones led the way with 45 yards rushing on 11 carries. The freshman quarterback was 8-10 through the air for 116 yards and one touchdown. Chandler finished with 81 yards on 16 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Carter had seven carries for 19 yards and one score while Rusher had one carry for four yards. Byrd finished with four catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. Justin Stevens caught two passes for 25 yards. Rusher had one catch for 34 yards while Quin Holman snared one pass for five yards.
Manila, who ran only nine offensive plays in the game, was led by Burkes who carried three times for 15 yards and was 1-1 through the air for 31 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Towles carried two times for 15 yards while Cody Webb had one carry for four yards. Ausbrooks finished 1-1 for 49 yards and a touchdown. Towles caught one pass for 49 yards and a score while Hill finished with one reception for 31 yards and one touchdown.
Trumann will return to action Thursday night when they host Osceola in the Wildkitten's homecoming game.
Manila will play a couple of games this week, neither of which are listed on their regular schedule. The Lions will travel to Hoxie Tuesday afternoon for a 5:00 game against the Mustangs. Manila will return to action Thursday night when they travel to Marked Tree for a 7:00 match-up with the Indians.