Lions fall short in bid for first win -- Brookland defeats Manila 30-16
Manila's senior Lions looked to be on the verge of gaining their first victory since the 2012 season when they took an 8-0 lead over Brookland midway through the third quarter of play. The Lions were still in position to pick up the win with 9:00 left in the game and the score tied 16-16, but the Bearcats, behind quarterback Drake Rainwater and running back Brett Robinson, scored two touchdowns within a 24 second span and turned back the Lions 30-16 in non-conference football action Friday night at Bearcat Field.
Manila had several opportunities to take the lead in the first half. The Lions stopped the Bearcats on downs at the Brookland 35 yard line early in the game. Luis Maldonado's 25-yard run on Manila's first play from scrimmage gave the Lions a first and goal at the Bearcat 10. But Brookland's defense rose to the occasion, sacking Lion quarterback Kyle Joyner on successive downs, before Robinson picked off a Joyner pass at the Bearcat 37 to thwart the Lion scoring threat.
Manila received another opportunity, recovering a Bearcat fumble at the Lion 37 yard line. The Lions drove to the Brookland 32 before turning the ball over on downs. Gavin Parker got the ball right back for Manila, pouncing on a Devin Whiteside fumble at the Bearcat 20. But a fourth down pass by Joyner fell incomplete, giving the ball back to Brookland.
Brookland threatened late in the first half, driving deep into Lion territory, but Rainwater's fourth down pass from the Manila 17 was intercepted by Patrick Tanner, and the two teams went into the dressing room scoreless at intermission.
Manila took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 68 yards in seven plays, scoring on a 15-yard run by Maldonado at the 8:33 mark of the third quarter. Maldonado's two point conversion run gave the Lions their first lead of the season, 8-0.
Brookland battled right back behind Rainwater, who put together runs of 17, 16, and finally a 19-yard touchdown gallop to cap off a 73-yard scoring march. Rainwater scooted untouched into the end zone for the two point conversion to tie the game 8-8 with 6:14 left in the period.
The Bearcat defense forced a three and out and took possession at its own 15 yard line following a 35-yard Jake Helton punt. Rainwater began to use his size and strength, ripping off runs of 24 and 20 yards to give Brookland a first down in Lion territory. Whiteside then found a big hole in the middle of the Manila defense, and sprinted 44 yards to give the Bearcats the lead with just 20 seconds left in the third quarter. Rainwater's two point conversion run put Brookland on top 16-8 entering the final period.
Manila answered on its next possession, after a short kickoff by the Bearcats was returned to the Brookland 32 yard line. Maldonado scampered in from 14 yards out six plays later, and when Tyler Johnson added the two point conversion run, the two teams were knotted once again, 16-16, with 9:06 to go.
A long kickoff return and a penalty against the Lions gave Brookland excellent field position at the Manila 29 yard line. Two plays later, Rainwater found Cody Pemberton streaking down the left sideline for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 8:20 remaining. Rainwater's two point conversion gave the Bearcats a 24-16 lead.
Brookland wasted little time getting on the scoreboard again when Bryan Wallace picked off a Joyner pass at the Lion five yard line. Robinson barreled in for the touchdown to give the Bearcats a 30-16 lead. The two point conversion attempt failed.
Manila put together one last drive, thanks to back to back completions from Joyner to Helton, but the rally stalled at the Bearcat 42, and Brookland ran out the remainder of the clock to secure the win.
Manila finished the night with 150 yards total offense. Maldonado had eight carries for 97 yards and both Lion touchdowns. Nick Stiles rushed five times for 21 yards. Joyner completed two of seven passes for 44 yards and two interceptions, while Helton caught two passes for 44 yards.
Brookland finished with 354 yards total offense, including 273 on the ground. Rainwater carried 18 times for 119 yards and a touchdown while Robinson rushed 14 times for 56 yards and a score. Whiteside had six carries for 54 yards and a touchdown. Rainwater completed five of 12 passes for 81 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
"I thought the kids played hard tonight," said Lion Coach Jerry Castor. "The speed of the game was a little faster than we've been used to. I thought it caught our kids a little off guard. But the kids played hard; there are no excuses. We gave it all we had. I thought we kind of got worn down in the fourth quarter because of our lack of depth. Luis Maldonado played well; he's a good football player. Jake Helton had a good game tonight. He punted well and caught a couple of passes. I'm proud of all the kids."
Manila will open conference play Friday night, playing host to new member league Melbourne in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Lion Field.