Town Crier Sports Staff
Paragould exploded for 20 fourth quarter points, including a 40-yard touchdown dash by Tyson Underwood, as the Rams rallied for a 20-10 win over Manila Monday night in junior varsity action at Paragould.
The Lions and the Rams engaged in a defensive struggle for the first three quarters with Manila holding a 3-0 lead entering the fourth period, thanks to a 22-yard field goal from the foot of junior Frankie Cowgill. Cowgill's three pointer was set up by a 61-yard kickoff return by Manila's Kyle Evans to open the second half, giving Manila a first and goal at the Ram nine yard line. But the Paragould defense stiffened, forcing the Lions to settle for three.
Paragould finally got on the board with 8:02 left in the game on a three yard run by Underwood. Underwood's touchdown was set up when Ram quarterback Steve Vericker found wide receiver Trent Wooldridge for a 40-yard strike to the Manila 21-yard line. Underwood scored four plays later to give the Rams the lead. Paragould's two point conversion attempt was successful, giving the Rams an 8-3 advantage.
Manila's special teams came up big once more when Hunter Bryan fielded the ensuing kickoff, found daylight down the left sidelines and raced 75 yards for the go-ahead score. Cowgill's point after gave Manila a 10-8 lead with 7:49 left in the game.
Paragould answered again on their next possession when Wooldridge returned Cowgill's kickoff 50 yards to the Manila 33 yard line. It took just four plays for Underwood to give the Rams the lead for good, scoring from 13 yards out at the 4:18 mark. The two point conversion attempt failed, but the Rams had a 14-10 lead.
Manila took over on their own 25-yard line following the Ram kickoff and picked up one first down. But on fourth and five at the Lion 43, Steven Green was dropped for a two yard loss to stop the Lion drive with only 1:40 left in the game. Two plays later Underwood darted 40 yards for the game clinching touchdown.
"I thought we fought real hard, and I was pleased with our overall effort," said Manila Coach Toby Doke. "We did a good job with our kickoff returns, but we just made too many mistakes that cost us the game. But we will fix those and hopefully get better with our techniques. We have to get more physical and do a better job in the red zone. I thought our coaches had a good game plan and we had a chance to win the game."
Manila finished with 65 yards on the ground and 71 total yards. Cody Webb picked up 36 yards while Steven Green added 33 more to lead the Lion rushing attack. Blake Wheeler carried nine times for 12 yards while Josh Miles picked up two yards on one carry. Wheeler threw nine passes, completing four for 14 yards. Hunter Bryan and Spencer Cain both caught six yard passes while Green had one reception for three yards.
The Lions piled up close to 200 yards on kickoff returns.
Paragould finished with 175 of total offense, including 105 on the ground and 70 through the air.