Mohawks outgun Lions 40-35 in wild shootout

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When Manila quarterback Josh Miles found J.J. Helton for his fifth touchdown pass of the night with 4:41 left in the game, it looked as though the Lions would come away with a 35-32 victory over Piggott. But the Mohawks would not be denied when Luc Young blasted through the heart of the Lion defense for a 31-yard touchdown run with just 1:24 remaining before the final horn to pull out a 40-35 win in a wild 3A-3 conference thriller Friday night at Manila.

Manila's Dillon Burrow races for end zone in Lion's 40-35 loss to Piggott. (Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)

Miles had his best game of the season, connecting on 19-38 passes for 277 yards and five scores, but it wasn't enough in the end, as Piggott's rushing attack finally wore down the Manila defense to steal away the Lion's third win of the season.

The Manila gunslinger threw his first touchdown pass of the night to Helton with 7:08 left in the second quarter. Miles hooked up with Spencer Cain for the two point conversion pass to pull the Lions to within 14-8 after the Mohawks had taken a 14-0 first period lead on a pair of touchdown runs by tailback Alec Samples.

Following the Manila score, Piggott gambled on a fourth and two from its own 38 yard line. But the Lion defense stiffened, stuffing running back Alec Samples a yard shy of the first down marker, giving the Lions excellent field position.

Manila's John Wilbanks lifts J.J. Helton after touchdown reception against Piggott.

Miles wasted little time in answering the Mohawk score when the senior quarterback found Helton, who made a spectacular juggling catch to complete a 39-yard touchdown strike on the Lion's first play from scrimmage. Zach Birmingham's point after attempt gave the Lions a 15-14 lead with 4:42 left in the half.

After forcing a Piggott punt, the Lions took over at midfield with only 21 seconds left in the first half. Miles threw incomplete on first down, but Steven Green bolted 25 yards down to the Mohawk 25 yard line on the next play. Manila called time out with 4.8 seconds left to discuss their final play before halftime. Following the timeout, Miles rolled right, spotting Dillon Burrow in the right flat, and the sophomore scooted into the end zone, completing the 25-yard touchdown pass play as the clock expired, giving Manila a 21-14 lead heading into intermission.

The Mohawks took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and scored on a 35-yard touchdown dash by Luke Yount, who spun away from several would-be Lion tacklers. Jon Perkins was wide right on his point after attempt, leaving Manila with a 21-20 lead at the 9:38 mark.

On the ensuing kickoff, Burrow lost the handle on the ball and the Mohawks recovered at the Lion 27 yard line. Zac Trammell gave Piggott the lead three plays later, rambling in from 15 yards out for a 26-21 Mohawk advantage with 8:45 left in the third quarter.

Miles struck again late in the third period, hooking up with Helton from 16 yards out to cap off a 12-play, 80-yard drive, putting the Lions back on top, 27-26.

The two teams traded turnovers to start the fourth quarter before Piggott's Samples bolted 12 yards, giving the Mohawks a 32-27 lead with 4:59 left in the game, setting up the frantic finish.

The Lions had one last opportunity to pull out the win after Samples' go-ahead touchdown run, but Samples struck again, intercepting a Miles pass with 31 seconds left in the game. Piggott ran out the clock for the victory.

"We made a few mistakes early, giving them a 14-0 lead, but we rallied back, scoring 21 unanswered," said Manila Head Coach Toby Doke. "We matched scores with them in the second half, but they made an adjustment and went to a power running game and wore us down. But I am really proud of this football team. They have come so far from last year. Our seniors have gotten us to this point. We are making plays now that we haven't made in the past. We fought punch for punch with Piggott all night long. I don't think we got out punched, I just think we ran out of time."

"Overall, our kids fought tooth and nail, matching Piggott all night long," said Doke. "I couldn't be more proud of our team. J.J. Helton had a tremendous night receiving. Josh Miles, what can I say? He has led us all year and has done an outstanding job despite having only played quarterback for two seasons. Our whole team played well. It was an outstanding effort. We just came up short."

Helton caught nine passes for a whopping 176 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Lions in receiving. Burrow grabbed four receptions for 50 yards and one touchdown. Jared Burks caught three passes for 29 yards while Tracey Reinhart snared three passes for 22 yards.

Green led Manila in rushing with nine carries for 29 yards while John Wilbanks had eight rushes for 26 yards. Burrow carried three times for 14 yards, Brian Borden had three carries for four yards while Miles picked up three yards on four carries. The Lions finished with 353 yards of total offense and had three turnovers on the night.

Piggott had two players rush for over 100 yards, led by Yount who carried 13 times for 127 yards and two scores. Samples rushed 26 times for 104 yards and three touchdowns. Spencer Coomer had five rushes for 32 yards. Trammell rushed three times for 21 yards and a touchdown while Zach Redmon rushed three times for 17 yards. Jon Perkins finished the night one for four through the air for 12 yards. The Mohawks finished with 299 yards of total offense and had two turnovers on the night.

Manila will close the season Thursday night as they host Rivercrest on senior night. Kickoff is set for 7:30.

In junior high action, Manila dropped a 29-0 decision at Rivercrest in a rain-marred contest Thursday night.

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