Lions fall at Piggott

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The maturing process that is the 2008 football season continued for the Manila Lions last Friday night, as they dropped a 0-44 conference game to the Piggott Mohawks. With the loss the Lions fall to 1-8 on the season, and 0-6 in conference play. Meanwhile the Mohawks improve to 4-5 and 2-4 but find themselves out of the playoff hunt.

It was senior night at Piggott's Parker Field as the Lions and the Mohawks renewed their old football rivalry so Lion captains Jared Hembrey and Seth Towles were met at mid-field for the coin toss by all 12 senior members of the Mohawk football team. Piggott then won the coin toss but deferred to the second half and the Lions would go on offense first.

With a good Halloween-night crowd on hand, Manila's John Willbanks took the opening kickoff and returned it back to the Lion's 32 yard line. Quarterback Josh Miles then set-up the offense and attempted to establish a drive. On first down Frankie Cowgill was hit in the backfield for a short loss, and on second down a pass intended for Willbanks fell incomplete. On third down it appeared that Brian Borden had caught the football just shy of the first down marker, but it was ruled incomplete. The Lions were then forced to punt the ball away as they faced fourth and long.

The Mohawks then set the tone for the night, as they moved the ball downfield behind the running of backs Jim Threatt, Jason Howell and Michael Morgan. But the Manila defense did make some good stops early on, as Nick Bryan, Tracey Reinhart and Zach Birmingham all made their presence felt.

The first Piggott score came with 8:42 to go in the first quarter as Threatt broke-off a 32 yard touchdown run. Baldwin then hit Colby Lovelace for the two point conversion and the Mohawks led 8-0.

On the following kickoff Blake Nimeth returned the ball out to the 32 yard line, and the Lion offense would get another shot. That drive included a couple of good runs by Willbanks, and a first down pass completion by Cowgill. The drive stalled as Miles tried to hit Spencer Cain, but the ball was knocked away by Piggott's Rob Rice. The Lions then went for it on fourth down, but the pass intended for Willbanks fell incomplete.

The following drive also led to points for the home team, as Howell weaved through the Lion defense for a 16 yard touchdown run with 4:53 to play in the first quarter. And despite a good shot by Hembrey, Piggott's Threatt was able to push in for the two point conversion to make it a 16-0 ballgame.

On the following kickoff Willbanks returned the ball out to the Lion's 30, but the offense was unable to put together a drive against the strong Piggott defense, and once again they were forced to punt it away.

On the next Mohawk offensive drive the Lions made several good stops, and with the help of a 15 yard penalty, they forced the Piggott offense to punt the ball away with less than two minutes to play in the first quarter.

The following Manila drive would see a couple of good plays, including a nice catch and run by Steven Green. But the Mohawk defense once again rose to the occasion and the Lions were unable to hang on to the football. On their next possession Baldwin broke off a 60 yard touchdown run, giving Piggott a 22-0 lead with 9:33 to play in the first half. But, on the two point conversion attempt Brian Vancely stopped Threatt shy of the goal line to deny the extra points.

The Manila offense began to move the ball a bit more on the following series, and picked up a big first down on a run by Miles on fourth and one. The junior QB also hit Cain for a nice gainer. But the Lion drive ended as a Miles pass was picked-off with 4:08 left in the first half.

The Mohawks then tried to mount a scoring drive of their own, but that came up short thanks to several good stops, including a touchdown saving tackle by Vancley. Borden then picked off a Baldwin pass with 1:23 to go till the halftime break.

But the Lions were still unable to move the football, and the Mohawks used a timeout to get the football back with just seconds to play. The Piggott offense then capitalized on the opportunity as Baldwin hit Rice for a 30 yard touchdown. Threatt added the two point conversion and the Mohawks led 30-0 at the break.

On the opening kickoff of the second half Piggott's Rice fumbled the kick, then picked it up and ran it 80 yards for a touchdown. The senior was then whistled for excessive celebration as he "dunked" the ball over the goalpost, and as a result the two point conversion attempt was no good.

The Lions then got a good return from Cowgill, and set up shop once again. A couple of plays later came one of the highlights of the evening, as Miles hit Cain and he carried the ball deep into Piggott territory. Following a timeout for an injured Mohawk, the Lions took several shots at the endzone but would turn the ball over on downs.

The Piggott second string offense then came on, and with the clock running the Mohawks began to play out the half. The home team did get another score though, as Morgan took it in from two yards out early in the fourth quarter. Zac Trammell added the extra point and the final score was reached at 44-0.

For the Lions Willbanks led the way with 25 yards on 10 carries, while Miles was eight of 26 for 71 yards and three interceptions. Baldwin led the Mohawks with 109 yards on four carries, and was two of three passing for 30 yards. In total offense the Lions had 97 yards while the Mohawks racked-up a total of 397.

The Lions will close out the season at Wilson Thursday night as they take on the Rivercrest Colts.

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