Lions shut down Mohawks 18-8
Manila used a stingy defense and an opportunistic offense to post its second victory of the year, defeating Piggott 18-8 in 3A-3 conference football action Friday night at Lion Field.
Manila scored on its first possession, marching 72 yards in nine plays, reaching pay dirt on Nick Stiles' 11-yard touchdown blast up the middle to put the Lions on top. Stiles added the two point conversion run for an 8-0 Lion lead with 4:42 left in the opening period.
Manila reached the end zone for the second time of the night when Eric Navarro scooted 26 yards on a specially designed play with 2:07 left in the half. Luis Maldonado's two point conversion run put the Lions on top 16-0.
Piggott finally caught a break, taking advantage when Patrick Tanner mishandled a punt with the Mohawks recovering at the Lion 43 yard line. A 24-yard pass from Mohawk quarterback Bret Fuller to Nicholas McKinnie gave Piggott a first down at the Manila 23. A nine yard run by Bradley Stephens, followed by a seven yard McKinnie scamper, gave the Mohawks a first and goal at the Manila seven. Logan Dixon scooted into the end zone on a double reverse with just eight seconds left before intermission. Fuller's two point conversion sliced the Lion lead to 16-8 at the half.
Manila began the second half, marching into Mohawk territory before being forced to punt. Jake Helton's kick penned Piggott inside its own five yard line. The Lion defense held, forcing the Mohawks to kick, but the snap sailed over punter Bradley Stephens' head into the end zone. Stephens fell on the ball, giving Manila a safety and an 18-8 lead late in the third quarter.
Piggott drove into Lion territory three times in the fourth quarter, but came up empty each time as the Lion defense put together one of its best efforts of the year. Manila's Justin Walton ended Piggott's final threat of the evening, picking off a Fuller pass inside the Lion 20 yard line.
Manila's defense limited Piggott to just 115 yards of total offense, an average on only 2.5 yards per play. Stephens led the Mohawks on the ground with 10 carries for 42 yards while McKinnie had 10 rushes for 31 yards. Fuller completed two passes out of 12 attempts for 26 yards and an interception.Trace Stallings finished one for three for 20 yards.
The Lions totaled 219 yards offense, all on the ground. Maldonado picked up 73 yards on 13 carries while Stiles carried 10 times for 64 yards. Quarterback Kyle Joyner rushed nine times for 52 yards, Aaron Carter accounted for 38 yards on 10 rushes, Navarro ran two times for 26 yards while Josh McQueen had two carries for six yards.
"This was a nice win, the kids worked really hard this week," said Lion Coach Jerry Castor. "We still made too many mistakes, but our defense really played well tonight. They kept us in the ball game. We did some unbalanced things on offense that gave Piggott some problems. The play that Navarro ran in for the touchdown confused them. I am proud of these kids, the way they've worked and the excitement we had on the sidelines tonight. This was just a big win for our school and our football team. I thought all our running backs did a good job of running the ball tonight. Our quarterback Kyle Joyner really controlled the tempo of the game. Most of these kids are juniors and sophomores and they are just now coming together as a team. That's what we are working toward. We have a big game next week with Corning. If we can win that game, we will go to the state playoffs for the first time in school history. We took the first step by beating Piggott tonight. Now we get to see if we can take it one step further."
In junior high action, Piggott shut out Manila 40-0 Thursday night at Piggott.
The senior Lions (2-6, 2-3 3A-3) will close out their home season Friday night against the Corning Bobcats with a state playoff berth on the line. The junior Lions close out the regular season Thursday night at Corning.