Town Crier Sports Staff
Manila broke an 8-8 tie in the fourth quarter on a Dillon Burrow touchdown run and sealed the deal when Cody Adamson pounced on a Greene County Tech fumble with just over 1:00 to play, giving the Junior Lions their first victory of the season Thursday night at Paragould.
The two teams battled to an 8-8 tie until Burrow scored on a one yard keeper with 5:34 left in the game to put Manila on top for good, 14-8. Greene County Tech had one last chance, but Adamson's heads up play snuffed out the Eagle's come back hopes and gave the Lions a much needed win.
"Our kids fought hard and played hard all night and deserved this win," said an elated Lion Coach Toby Doke. "Greene County Tech is a well coached team, but our kids were not going to be denied tonight. I appreciate our kids laying it on the line."
After Landon Spain had pinned the Eagles deep in their own territory at the Tech 14 yard line with a 37-yard punt, the Lion defense stopped the Eagles on three plays, forcing Tech to give up the ball. GCT's Wes Copeland saw his punt go off the side of his foot, traveling just 17 yards, setting up the Lions with excellent field position at the Eagle 27 yard line with 7:50 left in the game.
Three plays netted the Lions minus two yards, setting up a crucial fourth and 12 play. Burrow connected with wide receiver Tracey Reinhart on a 14 yard curl pattern, giving the Lions a first down at the Eagle 13. Burrow scampered 12 yards on first down, and one play later scrambled over the goal line, giving the Lions a 14-8 lead at the 5:34 mark.
"That was a big pass play on fourth and 12 from Burrow to Reinhart to keep the chains moving," said Doke. "That put us in position to score the go-ahead touchdown."
Tech had one last chance to pull out the win and started with good field position at their own 35 after the Lion kickoff. Facing third and 10, the Eagle's John Messer found a hole in the Lion defense and rambled 17 yards to the Manila 48 yard line. Tech picked up another first down when quarterback Carson Copeland found a seam and ran seven yards for a first down at the Lion 35. A pair of running plays netted four yards, setting up a third and six at the Manila 31 with 1:18 left in the game. On the next play, Copeland lost the handle on the football and Adamson recovered the fumble, giving the Lions the ball with 1:13 remaining in the final period. The Lions ran the clock down as the Eagles, out of time outs, watched the final seconds tick away, setting off a wild celebration for the Manila faithful.
The Lions got on the board first when Burrow hooked up with Lion wide receiver Brent Ray on a 60 yard touchdown pass with only 58 seconds left in the opening quarter, giving Manila a 6-0 lead. Landon Spain ran in the two point conversion to give the Lions an 8-0 lead.
Greene County Tech got even on a 12-yard touchdown run around right end by running back Alex Markum with 3:14 to go in the first half. Markum rambled in on the two point conversion play to tie the game at 8-8.
Tech had a chance to take the lead just before halftime after driving 52 yards in just over a minute, with the big play coming on a 27-yard pass from Copeland to wide receiver Lance Williams. The drive ended , however, when Markum fumbled and Manila's Shawn McCallie recovered at the Lion 13 yard line.
Burrow finished with 90 yards rushing on 17 carries while Spain picked up 48 more on five rushes.
"This was a total team effort tonight," said Doke. "It was really satisfying beating a 5A opponent. It gives our kids a lot of confidence. All our coaches did a great job tonight. Coach Steve Milligan did a great job with the offensive line. We had real good pass protection all night long. Coach Jason Durham made a few personnel changes last week and we came away with a great defensive performance tonight against a good team. We couldn't have won this game without them."
The Lions will take a week off before resuming action when they take on Marked Tree in their home opener Thursday, Oct. 4.