Junior Lions gain second victory of season

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Junior Lions Tyler Johnson (34), Rodney Laster (12), D.J. Myers (8), Josh Conlee (74) and Angel Villegas (66) celebrate following a quarterback sack Thursday night at Harrisburg.

Manila picked up victory number two, aided by a strong overall performance from freshman Tyler Johnson, as the Lions spoiled Harrisburg's homecoming with a 22-6 victory Thursday night at Hornet Field.

Johnson rushed for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while disrupting the Hornet offense with three quarterback sacks. Logan Hamilton also had a big night, carrying 15 times for 70 yards.

The Lions (2-3, 2-1 3A-3) dodged an early bullet when Harrisburg's Malik Versey bolted 74 yards for an apparent touchdown which would have given the Hornets an early lead. But a holding penalty against Harrisburg nullified the touchdown, and the Lion defense stiffened, forcing a punt.

Manila quarterback Patrick Tanner (1) celebrates after scoring a touchdown for the Lions Thursday night at Harrisburg. (Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)

Manila wasted little time capitalizing, scoring in just four plays, when Johnson lumbered 43 yards, giving the Lions a 6-0 lead with just 44 seconds left in the opening period. The two point conversion run failed.

Versey appeared to have scored again, darting 34 yards around right end, but the Hornets were flagged for their second holding penalty, nullifying yet another Harrisburg score. On fourth and 10 from the Lion 36, Harrisburg quarterback Clay Wright was intercepted by Patrick Tanner at the Lion 24 yard line.

Following the turnover, Manila put together a 10 play, 76 yard scoring drive that consumed almost five minutes off the clock to take a 12-0 lead. Johnson's 20-yard ramble up the middle with 38 seconds left before halftime capped off the Lion scoring march. Hamilton also had a 17-yard carry on the drive to help set up Johnson's touchdown. Tanner converted on the two point attempt, giving Manila a 14-0 halftime lead.

Lion running back Josh Waddell (15) on his touchdown run that was erased due to a holding penalty.

Manila increased its advantage to 22-0, taking the opening kickoff of the second half and going 51 yards for their third score of the night. Tanner got the touchdown on a four yard scamper with 4:41 left in the third quarter. Johnson barreled in for the two point conversion.

The Lions appeared to have scored again on Josh Waddell's 73-yard dash into the end zone, but like the Hornets, Manila was called for a hold and Waddell's touchdown run was erased.

The Hornets finally got on the board with 2:36 left in the game when Versey plunged in from one yard out. Wright's 28-yard pass to Hunter Harris set up the Harrisburg touchdown.

Lion defensive coach Jason Belcher encourages his team during a time-out Thursday night in junior high football action at Harrisburg.

"We really played well tonight," said Lion Coach Jerry Castor. "We played good defense tonight and really moved the ball offensively. We came off the ball well and really ran the ball well. It was a complete effort on both sides of the football. We didn't have too many mistakes, although we did have a long touchdown run of our own called back. Johnson had a nice game tonight, both offensively and defensively. He's a good football player. We are getting better every week."

The Lions finished with 229 yards of total offense, all on the ground, and had zero turnovers on the night. Manila's defense held Harrisburg to 106 yards total offense. Versey led the Hornet attack with 18 carries for 103 yards and a score.

The senior Lions fell to 0-5 with a 44-0 loss Friday night at Corning.

The junior Lions will return home Thursday night to face Hoxie in a 2A-3 conference battle. The senior Lions will host conference rival Harrisburg Friday night at Lion Field. Kickoff for both games is 7 p.m.

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