Junior Lions outlast Hoxie in conference shootout

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Lion Ethan Navarro (7) chases Hoxie's Diamani Davis (5) in junior high football action Thursday night at Manila.

Thursday night's 3A-3 junior high conference opener between Manila and Hoxie turned into a shootout. When the dust finally settled, it was Manila who came out on top in a fun filled 34-24 victory at Lion Field.

The two teams combined for a whopping 662 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns. Manila produced a pair of 100 yard rushers, as Logan Hamilton rambled for 129 yards and two scores while teammate Kris Kerley picked up 106 yards on just eight carries. Jacob McCullom just missed the century mark, gaining 89 yards on only three attempts for an impressive 30 yard per carry average.

After battling to a 0-0 tie after one quarter of play, Manila dented the scoreboard with a 46-yard romp by Hamilton on the initial play of the second period. The two point conversion failed, leaving the Lions ahead 6-0 with 7:51 left in the first half.

Manila's Logan Hamilton (24) looks for running room against Hoxie Thursday night. Hamilton galloped for a team leading 129 yards and two touchdowns in the Lion's 34-24 victory over the Mustangs. The win gives Manila a 2-1 overall record and a 1-0 league mark.

The Lions took advantage of a fumble by Hoxie's Caleb Littlejohn, which was recovered by Manila defensive back Kyle Bell at the Lion 49. Facing third and 11 at the Hoxie 22, quarterback Lane Sims hooked up with Brett Carter on a 22-yard pass play for Manila's second score of the game. Sims' two point conversion run gave the Lions a 14-0 lead with 3:04 left before intermission.

Hoxie answered on its next offensive possession, scoring on a two-yard touchdown run by Chandler Spradlin with 52 seconds left in the half. The touchdown was set up when Littlejohn raced 30 yards to the Manila two. Josh Midgett ran in the two point conversion to slice the Manila lead to 14-8 at the half.

The Lions took the second half kickoff and marched 64 yards in six plays, capped off by Kerley's 41-yard touchdown run at the 4:53 mark. The two point conversion attempt failed, and Manila lead 20-8.

Manila's Jacob McCullom scoots around right end on his way to a 57 yard touchdown dash, helping the Lions to a 34-24 3A-3 conference victory Thursday night over Hoxie.

Hoxie came right back with a 60-yard scoring drive of their own, getting in the end zone on a 44-yard sprint from Midgett. Diamani Davis' two point conversion run cut the Lion lead to 20-16.

The Lions countered with their fourth touchdown of the night when Hamilton barreled in from 13 yards out with just 40 seconds left in the third quarter. Kerley's 35-yard run set up Hamilton's score. The two point conversion run failed again with Manila ahead 26-16.

Hoxie closed to within two points when Midgett scooted home from 33 yards out with 6:13 left in the game. Midgett added the two point conversion and suddenly Manila's lead was just 26-24.

The Lions gained breathing room with 4:00 to go when McCullom darted 57 yards on an inside zone sweep for a touchdown. Hamilton's two point conversion run gave the Lions a 34-24 advantage.

Midgett gave Hoxie one last chance, flashing 66 yards to the Manila four yard line in the waning seconds, but the Lion defense stiffened, and took over on downs at the Manila three. The Lions ran out the clock, as they improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play.

Manila finished the night with 347 yards total offense, including 325 on the ground.

Hoxie had 315 yards total offense, led by Midgett's five carry, 154-yard two touchdown performance. Davis picked up 95 yards on 16 carries while Littlejohn had eight totes for 55 yards.

"We did some great things tonight," said Lion Coach Jerry Castor. "We put in a couple of new plays for McCullom. We knew he could run fast and he did what we thought he could do. Logan Hamilton and Kris Kerley carried the ball really well and Brett Carter did a good job of blocking tonight. We are still trying to plug away right now and fit all the pieces together. Hoxie's offense is very deceiving, and we had trouble finding the ball. It was like the four horsemen back there. They were getting outside of us on the sweeps, but we adjusted and did a better job. It was a good win for the team, the school and the community. It was just a good win overall."

The Lions return to action Thursday night, traveling to Melbourne in a 3A-3 conference showdown.

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