Earle takes bite out of Junior Lions, 24-0, in season finale
Earle used its size and speed to overwhelm Manila 24-0 in 3A-3 conference junior high football action Thursday night at Lion Field.
The game turned the Bullpups' way early, when on fourth and two from the Manila 43, the Lions failed to convert, handing Earle excellent field position. It took Earle just five plays to travel 44 yards to pay dirt, scoring on a six yard run by Gary Bohannon. Bohannon tacked on the two point conversion run, giving the Bullpups an 8-0 lead.
Manila took the ensuing kickoff and drove from their own 31 to the Earle 18 before a fumble ended the Lion threat. Manila was aided by a roughing the punter penalty that kept the drive alive, as well as a 22-yard pass completion from quarterback Patrick Tanner to wide out Luis Maldonado.
Earle scored what appeared to be its second touchdown of the night on a 53-yard dash by quarterback Richard Merritt, but a holding penalty nullified the score. The Bullpups came right back, converting on a critical fourth and 10 when running back Earin Gray scampered 20 yards for a first down. Merritt scooted the remaining 49 yards on the next play for a Bullpup touchdown. Bohannon's two point conversion run gave Earle a 16-0 halftime lead.
Earle closed out the scoring on a 59 yard touchdown pass from Bohannon to Banks with 6:13 left in the third period. Bohannon converted his third consecutive two point run, giving Earle the 24-0 win.
The Bullpups finished the night with 338 yards of total offense, including 279 on the ground. Merritt led Earle with 135 yards on 11 rushes and a score. Gray carried five times for 50 yards while Bohannon ran for one score and threw for another while piling up 85 yards of total offense.
Earle limited Manila to just 84 yards of total offense. The Lions rushed 25 times for 53 yards, led by Tyler Johnson who carried 11 times for 45 yards on the night. Tanner completed two of seven passes for 31 yards but was picked off twice. Maldonado caught two passes for 31 yards.
"Earle is a very good football team, you have to give them a lot of credit," said Lion Coach Trent Floyd. "We had a good week of practice, but for whatever reason, it just wasn't there tonight. We have to get more consistent. That's something we have to get better at, and we will. Earle is big, fast and they worked hard, and that's a tough combination to beat. They have speed, size, athleticism, heart and hustle. When that happens you are up for a challenge, because that's a good football team. That is where we are trying to get. A team like Earle is where we want to get to."
"Our team has come such a long way this year," continued Floyd. "They just love playing football. That is so exciting to us that our kids want to play and they have to have it. I can see that we're getting there. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. That's exciting for us as coaches. It didn't end the way to wanted it to, but we had two good conference wins this year. I just couldn't be more proud of the kids for their heart, attitude and effort this year. They bring that every day. In the long run, that will bring great dividends for us."