Lions and Rams battle to 8-8 stalemate
There's an old saying in sports that a tie is like kissing your sister, but Thursday night's 8-8 stalemate with Paragould left the Junior Lions feeling as though they lost the game.
Manila made things look easy early on. The Lions took the opening kickoff and wasted little time with a four play, 72 yard touchdown drive to take a quick 8-0 lead. Following an incompletion and a three yard loss, freshman Jordan Brewer exploded for a 49 yard run up the middle, setting up Manila at the Paragould 31 yard line. Eighth grade quarterback Sam Hubbard hooked up with freshman Dylan Bogle on a 31 yard touchdown pass, giving the Lions the early lead with just a little over a minute and a half into the game. Brewer ran untouched into the end zone for the two point conversion.
Paragould took the ensuing kickoff and marched from its own 24 all the way to the Manila 28 yard line before the Lion defense stiffened. Ram quarterback Dalton West threw an 11 yard pass to running back Jordan Sayre before the freshman signal caller sprinted 23 yards to put Paragould in Lion territory. A nine yard run by burly fullback Chris Smith gave the Rams a second and one at the Lion 28, but the Manila defense stopped Paragould on three consecutive short yardage tries to halt the drive and take possession.
The rest of the half was a defensive struggle with neither team mounting a serious scoring threat as the Lions took an 8-0 lead into the dressing room.
Paragould threatened again late in the third period after recovering a Hubbard fumble at the Manila 32 yard line. The Rams drove inside the Lion 10 yard line on a 16 yard pass from West to Sayre, setting up a first and goal at the Manila seven. On Paragould's next play, Smith took a handoff from West and darted toward the end zone, but fumbled just before breaking the plane and the Lions recovered for a touchback.
The Rams had another scoring opportunity when Manila botched an attempted punt that Paragould recovered at the Lion 21 yard line with 7:37 left in the game. The Lion defense rose to the occasion once again after the Rams gained another first and goal at the Manila nine yard line. On third down, Bogle picked off a West pass and returned it 15 yards to the Lion 30 yard line with only 4:10 to play in the game.
After a three and out, the Lions were forced to punt, giving Paragould the ball at the Manila 43 with 2:37 remaining. On third and 12 from the Lion 45, West found Colton Dillard on a 17 yard pass, picking up a critical first down to the Lion 28. West then hooked up with Sayre for 14 more yards to the Manila 14. West completed his third pass in a row, this time for a touchdown in the right corner of the end zone to Jordan Ketcherside with just 1:19 left in the game to pull the Rams to within 8-6. West found Ketcherside again on a pick play for the two point conversion to tie the game 8-8.
Manila ran four plays but could get no further than their own 24 as the game came to an end.
"This was a tough one to swallow," said Manila Coach Jason Durham. "We jumped on them early and had the momentum. I thought our defense played well most of the night, except for a couple of lapses toward the end of the game. Paragould changed their offense up and went to the spread in the second half and that had us confused. We had trouble matching up with them, especially on that last drive when they scored."
"I thought for the first game we played pretty well," said Durham. "Jordan Brewer had a very good game and I thought eighth grader Jordan Goff also had an excellent game on defense. Chad Lisk is in on almost every play whether it's offense or defense. He's all over the field. It was our first game, so we made some mistakes, but all in all, we had a good effort. Hopefully our quarterback, Sam Hubbard, will be back next week. He tweaked his back and had to be taken out. You can't take those things lightly, so we'll have to wait and see, but we're hoping for the best."
Manila was led by Brewer who rushed 12 times for 101 yards. Hubbard finished five of seven passing for 69 yards and a touchdown while Bogle went two for three through the air for seven yards. Bogle led the Lions in receiving with four receptions for 68 yards while Zach Reinhart caught two passes for seven yards. The Lions finished with 160 yards of total offense.
West led Paragould with six carries for 37 yards. Smith had six totes for 21 yards while Sayre rushed 11 times for 15 yards. West went six of twelve through the air for 104 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Sayre led the Rams in receiving with three catches for 41 yards. Ketcherside caught two passes for 46 yards and a touchdown while Dillard finished with one reception for 17 yards. The Rams finished the night with 175 yards of total offense.
Manila (0-0-1) will return to action Thursday night when they travel to Hoxie to take on the Mustangs.