Sophomore Dillon Burrow connected with Jared Burks on a 12-yard touchdown pass with only 7.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lift Manila to a heart-pounding 19-13 come from behind victory Friday night at Rector.
Burrow's only completion of the night was tipped twice before Burks clutched the game winning throw in the back of the Cougar end zone, giving the Lions their second consecutive season opening victory.
(Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)
The game might not have been as close had the Lions been able to hold on to several dropped passes throughout the contest, but when it counted most, the Manila receivers came through. Junior Brian Borden had a huge night receiving, grabbing seven throws for 146 yards and two scores. Starting quarterback Josh Miles connected on 11 of 21 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
"I thought Josh threw the ball well all night long," said Doke. "We dropped several passes that should have been caught or our stats would have been a lot better and the game might not have been as close."
Manila got on the board when Miles hooked up with Borden on a 21 yard touchdown strike with 1:50 left in the third period. The Lions elected to go for the two point conversion, but the pass attempt failed, leaving the Cougars with a one point lead. The Manila scoring drive took just five plays covering 50 yards.
Rector quickly answered with an 11 play, 50 yard scoring drive, capped off by Clinton Haley's four yard touchdown run up the middle with 9:14 left in the game. Parsley, who finished the night with 36 carries for 190 yards, did much of the damage on the scoring drive, toting the ball seven times for 33 yards.
The Lions came right back when Burrow returned the ensuing kickoff 25 yards, giving Manila excellent field position at their own 47. Burrow's 19 yard scamper gave the Lions a first down at the Cougar 25, and after two incompletions, Miles again found Borden for a 25 yard touchdown strike with 7:43 left in the game. Zach Birmingham's point after tied the score at 13-13.
It was the Manila defense's turn to provide a spark for the Lions on Rector's next possession. Sophomore Shane Lee picked off a Dustin Sparks pass, giving the Lions the ball back at the Cougar 44 with 5:35 remaining in the game. The Lions, however, returned the favor with a turnover of their own, but Manila's defense rose to the occasion once again, holding the Cougars on downs at midfield with 1:04 left to play.
Miles began the winning Lion touchdown drive with a 19 yard completion to Borden, giving Manila a first down at the Cougar 31. Burrow squirted 16 yards down to the Rector 15, as the clock wound down, and after a three yard Shaun McCallie run put the ball on the Cougar 12, the Lions called time out to set up the winning play.
Burrow, who threw only three passes on the night, spotted Burks in the back of the end zone. The pass was deflected more than once before Burks clutched the game winner, sending the Lions and their fans into euphoria.
Manila gained 282 yards of total offense on 55 plays, but had four turnovers on the night. The Lions rushed for 84 yards on 21 attempts with two fumbles. Manila finished with 198 yards through the air for three scores and one interception.
Burrow led all Manila rushers with 49 yards on eight carries. McCallie rushed five times for nine yards while John Wilbanks carried four times for 17 yards. John Jones rushed once for five yards while Borden had one carry for four yards.
Burrow had two receptions for 15 yards, Wilbanks caught one pass for 22, Burks had one catch for 12 yards and a touchdown while Spencer Cain caught one pass for four yards.
Rector ran for 227 yards on 61 carries, led by Parsley's 190 yard performance. "Parsley is a heck of player," said Doke. "We won't see a better running back all year. He will play college ball somewhere."
Quarterback Dustin Sparks had nine carries for 21 yards while Haley finished with six carries for 13 yards and a touchdown. Sparks went just two for nine through the air for 30 yards with an interception. Haley and Parsley both caught passes for 15 yards each.
The Lions will travel to Westside Friday night to take on the Warriors in another non-conference battle before opening the season at home Sept. 18 against McCrory.
The Junior Lions will open their season Thursday night at Paragould against the Rams.