Lion rally falls short
By TRENT FLETCHER
Manila put together a furious fourth quarter rally, but fell a two point conversion short in their come back bid against Paragould as the Junior Lions fell 28-26 in a heart stopping non-conference football game Thursday night at Manila.
Manila opened the game by electrifying the crowd on Shane Lee's 80 yard kickoff return to give the Lions an early 6-0 lead. But the two point conversion attempt failed, and things turned south for the Lions until Manila found new life in their fourth quarter come back attempt.
Paragould ran off 28 unanswered points and took a 28-6 lead into the final period before the Lions caught fire. Dillow Burrow's 16 yard touchdown strike to Dylan Bogle with 7:58 to go pulled the Lions to within 28-12. Manila's two point conversion attempt failed for the second time of the night.
Paragould came right back with a 50 yard kickoff return by Zach Hagan, setting up the Junior Rams with a first down at the Manila 32 yard line. But the Lions came up with a fumble recovery when Paragould quarterback Houston Anglin lost the handle on the ball, setting Manila up at their own 42 yard line.
Jordan Brewer bolted 31 yards down to the Paragould 28 before quarterback Dillon Burrow hooked up with Lee on a 27 yard touchdown pass at the 5:15 mark, slicing the Ram lead down to 10. This time Manila was successful on the two point play, as Burrow found Bogle on a swing pass to pull the Lions to within one score, 28-20.
The Lion defense stiffened once more, forcing a Paragould punt, giving the Lions the ball back deep in their own territory at the 10 yard line with just 3:40 left in the game. Things looked bleak for Manila, as they faced a fourth and five from the 16, but Lee brought the Manila faithful to their feet once more when he caught a short pass from Burrow, split two defenders, and dashed 84 yards into the end zone to pull the Lions to within 28-26 with 2:56 remaining. Burrow's two point pass attempt was picked off, however, leaving the Rams with a two point lead.
Manila's onside kick was recovered by Paragould just inside the 50 yard line. The Rams ran three running plays, trying to run the clock out, but failed to pick up a first down, thanks to a strong effort once more by the Lion defense. Anglin's punt on fourth down traveled only 19 yards, giving Manila one last chance, starting from their own 30 yard line with just 32 seconds to go, but with no time outs left in their pocket.
Two incompletions by Burrow left Manila with a third and 10 with only 26 seconds to go. It was the Paragould defense that rose to the occasion on the next play when the Rams sacked Burrow for a 15 yard loss as the clock ran out, snuffing out the Lion's last hope for a come back victory.
"We just weren't prepared to play in the first half, and that's what got us beat," said Junior Lion Coach Jason Durham. "This started in practice this week, and it's my fault as a head coach that we weren't ready to go. We didn't execute anything we worked on during the week in the first half. The second half was a different game, but you can't dig yourself that deep of a hole and expect to win. Our defense did a fantastic job in the second half, and really swarmed to the football to give ourselves a chance. I couldn't be prouder of the way we finished the game, we just came up a couple of points short. The effort was great."
"I told the kids before the game it would come down to the team that's in the best shape, and that turned out to be Manila," said Ram Coach Michael Sloas. "We were just fortunate to hold on at the end and win the game. That was a big play by Anglin on the interception that stopped the two point attempt at the end. We just came up with the big play when we needed to. Houston Anglin is an excellent player on both sides of the football. We are very happy with the win."
Paragould evened the score after Lee's opening kickoff return on an eight yard touchdown run by Dalton West with 2:57 left in the opening quarter, tying the score at 6-6.
Paragould failed on the two point conversion.
The Rams took the lead for good when Anglin carried the ball in from one yard out with 3:19 left before the half. Anglin's two point run pushed the Paragould lead to 14-6.
The Rams got a big break on Manila's next possession when they recovered a Lion fumble at the Paragould 44. After the Rams were called for holding on first down, pushing the ball back to the 39, West hooked up with Blake Clayton on a 33 yard pass down to the Manila 26. Anglin rambled in on the very next play, and when the freshman quarterback connected with West on the two point conversion pass, the Rams had a 22-6 lead heading into the dressing room at the half.
The Rams scored their final touchdown with 2:11 left in the third quarter on a one yard quarterback sneak by Anglin, giving Paragould what appeared to be a safe 28-6 advantage. The touchdown was set up by another Manila fumble at the Lion four yard line.
The two teams battled to a virtual draw statistically. The Rams finished with 210 total yards while Manila had 208. Paragould got most of their yardage on the ground, picking up 154 yards and scoring all four touchdowns over land. The Rams completed four passes for 56 yards. Anglin was 1-3 for 23 yards while West finished 1-1 for 33 yards through the air. Anglin was the Ram's leading rusher, carrying 25 times for 92 yards and three scores. West toted the ball only twice, but picked up 21 yards and scored a touchdown.
Manila's Burrow finished the night 6-13 through the air for 163 yards and two scores. Lee was Burrow's top receiver, snaring two passes for 111 yards and the 84 yard touchdown play. Bogle also caught two passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. Brewer had one reception for 24 yards.
The Lions struggled with their rushing game, picking up only 25 net yards on 17 carries. Brewer led the way with seven totes for 61 yards on the night.
Manila will begin conference play hosting Hoxie Thursday night in a 7:00 kickoff. The Lions will play a seventh grade game at 5:00.