Junior Lions posts first win of the season

Monday, October 8, 2012
Manila's Junior Lions prepare to take the field prior to kickoff of their 3A-3 conference football game Thursday night at Hoxie.

Manila scored on its first two offensive possessions and went on to post its first win of the season, a 16-6 victory over Hoxie in 3A-3 junior high football action Thursday night at Crider Field.

Manila, who let a win slip through their hands last week against Harrisburg, would not be denied against the Mustangs, playing their most complete game of the season both offensively and defensively. The Lions rolled to 214 yards of total offense while dominating time of possession. The Lions held the Mustangs to only 46 yards of total offense while limiting Hoxie to just four offensive plays in the first half.

The Lions took the opening drive and marched 62 yards in 10 plays, capped off by Tyler Johnson's one yard touchdown plunge with 2:38 left in the first quarter. Johnson bulled his way in for the two point conversion run, giving Manila an 8-0 lead.

Lion running back Josh South (32) fight for yardage in Manila's 16-6 win over the Mustangs Thursday night at Hoxie.

The Lions capitalized on Hoxie's first offensive play, when Josh South pounced on a fumble by Hoxie's Dillon Cheatham at the Mustang 39 yard line. Manila covered the 39 yards in nine plays, scoring on a three yard quarterback keeper by eighth grader Patrick Tanner, who was starting his first game of the year at quarterback. Tanner followed his offensive line into the end zone for the two point conversion, giving Manila a 16-0 lead with 6:14 left in the half.

Manila threatened to score more, but penalties put a stop to their last possession of the half, leaving the Lions with a 16 point cushion at intermission.

Hoxie began the second half with a 43-yard kickoff return by Dyllon Littlejohn, giving the Mustangs excellent field position at the Lion 37. It took Hoxie just five plays to punch the ball into the end zone, scoring on a three yard touchdown run by quarterback James Johnson. The two point conversion attempt failed, leaving Manila with a 16-6 lead with 5:55 left in the third period.

Hoxie had a chance to pull closer when the Mustangs recovered a fumbled punt by Hunter Bass at the Manila 28 yard line late in the third quarter, but on fourth down from the Lion 20, James Johnson was sacked by Tyler Johnson to thwart the drive. Manila ran the final 5:47 off the clock to preserve their first victory of the season.

"So much credit goes to the offense. We worked all week on holding our blocks and our line did an excellent job," said Lion Coach Trent Floyd. "The kids came out and did a phenomenal job of doing everything we asked them to do. The line blocked, the receivers blocked, the running backs ran and blocked and our quarterback made good decisions. They won the ball game for us. They kept the defense off the field. It's a great feeling. We got good play from our defense too. We bent a little but we didn't break. When we had to come up with a big play, we met the challenge. It was just a great team effort."

"I thought Tyler Johnson played like a man possessed," continued Floyd. "That's what the fullback position is supposed to do. He was a real grinder tonight. Patrick Tanner played well for us at quarterback. He's got a lot of swagger and that's what you need at the quarterback position. Nothing against Luis Maldonado. He's one of our best players and he has done a good job for us at quarterback, but we feel like he can help us more at other positions. I thought everyone played well. I couldn't be prouder of the kids."

Johnson led the Lions with 13 rushes for 62 yards and a touchdown while Josh South had six carries for 51 yards. Bass had five rushes for 41 yards, Aaron Carter rushed three times for 22 yards, Maldonado had three carries for 18 yards while Tanner had seven rushes for eight yards and a score.

Tanner completed one of two passes for eight yards while Maldonado was one for one with four yards. Carter caught one pass for eight yards while South had one reception for four yards.

Manila returns to action Thursday night when they travel to Wilson to take on Rivercrest.

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