Late Melbourne touchdown shocks junior Lions 14-12

Tuesday, September 29, 2015
A herd of Lions give chase to Melbourne quarterback Gabe Lawrence during junior high football action Thursday night at Manila. Lion defenders from left are Dallas Green (70), Brett Carter (31), David Keys (60) and Jacob McCullom (88).

A week after picking up their first win of the season, the Manila Junior Lions seemed to have victory number two safe in hand when Ethan Navarro pulled down a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Layne Sims, giving Manila a 12-8 lead over Melbourne with just 38 seconds remaining in the game. But the Bearkatz snatched victory from the Lions' claws, scoring the game winning touchdown on a five yard pass from Gabe Lawrence to Alex Bray with just two ticks showing on the clock, giving Melbourne an improbable and stunning 14-12 come from victory over Manila Thursday night at Lion Field.

After Navarro's touchdown gave the Lions the lead, Melbourne took over at its own 32 with just 34 seconds remaining. Lawrence hooked up on a 29-yard pass play to Bray, giving the Bearkatz a first down at the Lion 33. Lawrence found Pitts on a 28-yard completion with 10 seconds left and a first and goal at the Manila five yard line. With no timeouts remaining, Melbourne had time for perhaps one last play, as Lawrence rolled right before finding Bray in the right corner of the end zone for what proved to be the game winning score. After the ensuing kickoff, the Lions had one last play, but Sims' desperation pass was picked off, ending the contest.

Melbourne took an 8-0 lead on a 52-yard pass from Lawrence to Pitts with just 1:34 left in the opening quarter. Bray's two point conversion run gave the Bearkatz an 8-0 lead.

Manila freshmen Mason stokes, Brett Carter, David Keys and Kris Morgan meet Melbourne's team captains at midfield prior to kickoff.

Manila came right back with an 11-play, 61-yard drive that stalled when the Bearkatz defense held the Lions on a fourth and goal at the Melbourne one yard line. The half ended with the Bearkatz holding an eight point advantage.

Neither team could score in the third quarter. The Bearkatz threatened, but on a third and 11 from the Lion 28, Manila's Dylan Clark picked off a Lawrence pass to turn back Melbourne. The Lions took over and drove deep into Bearkatz territory, but Brett Carter was stopped for no gain on a fourth and two at the Melbourne 22, ending the Lion drive.

Manila finally got on the board on a 10-yard pass from Sims to Levi Stroud with 3:49 left in the game. The two point conversion attempt failed, leaving the Bearkatz with an 8-6 edge.

Manila wide receiver Ethan Navarro hauls in a 26 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Layne Sims for what appeared to be the game winning score. Navarro's catch put the Lions on top 12-8 with just 38 seconds remaining, but Melbourne stunned the Lions with a five yard touchdown pass with only two seconds to go, giving the Bearkatz a 14-12 come from behind win.

The Lion defense came up big on Melbourne's next possession, forcing a three and out. Manila took over on its own 33 following the Bearkatz punt and quickly moved down the field, thanks to a 19-yard pass to Michael Parker, followed by a 10-yard toss to Carter. Sims then escaped a heavy Bearkatz pass rush, turning what looked to be a 10-yard loss into an eight yard gain down to the Melbourne 26. On the next play, Sims connected with Navarro for a 26-yard touchdown strike, putting Manila on top 12-8 with 38 seconds left. The two point conversion attempt failed.

The Lions piled up 289 yards of total offense with 189 coming through the air and 100 more on the ground. Sims carried 11 times for 59 yards while Carter rushed 13 times for 37. Sims completed 9-15 passes for 189 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Stroud led the Lions in receiving with five receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. Parker had two grabs for 28 yards, Navarro had one catch for 26 yards and a score while Carter had one reception for 10 yards.

Manila's defense limited Melbourne to just 167 yards total offense, including only 31 on the ground. Bray led the Bearkatz in rushing with 10 carries for 23 yards. Lawrence completed 7-9 passes for 136 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Pitts caught four passes for 91 yards and a score while Bray had three grabs for 45 yards and the game winning touchdown.

Lion offensive lineman David Keys lifts wide receiver Ethan Navarro into the air, in celebration of Navarro's 26-yard touchdown reception Thursday night at Manila. The Lions lost a heartbreaking 14-12 decision to visiting Melbourne.

"We did a good job of coming from behind," said Lion Coach Jerry Castor. "We trailed 8-0 entering the fourth quarter, scored a touchdown, missed our two point conversion, scored late to take the lead but again missed our two point conversion. That proved to be the difference in the game. We also had a first and goal deep in their territory and came away with no points. We didn't put it in and that's the ballgame right there. Our kids came back, fought hard and I'm proud of them. It would have been nice to have walked off this field with a victory tonight though."

The Junior Lions return to the gridiron Thursday night when they take on Cedar Ridge in 3A-3 conference play at Manila.

Senior Lions pick up second straight victory 13-8 over Bearkatz

The senior Lions built a 13-0 lead and held on for a 13-8 victory over Melbourne Friday night on the road. The victory improved Manila's record to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in 3A-3 conference play.

Jake Helton rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown, including what proved to be the game winner on Manila's first possession of the second half. Aaron's five yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave the Lions a 7-0 halftime advantage. Manila increased its lead to 13-0 early in the third quarter.

Melbourne scored with nine minutes left and converted the two point conversion play to pull to within 13-8. The Lions then came up with several defensive gems late in the game to hold on for the victory. Dalton Jones provided a big quarterback sack on a key third down play. Cornerback D.J. Myers batted down a pair of passes in the end zone while Marcos Flores added a huge tackle on a fourth down play, helping the Lions hang on for the win. Carter led the Lions defensively with 15 tackles.

Manila returns to action Friday night, traveling to Newark to face Cedar Ridge in a key 3A-3 conference battle. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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