Lions clinch state playoff berth with 47-14 thrashing of Corning
In a season full of firsts, Manila was rewarded with a ticket to the Class 3A State football playoffs, thanks to Friday night's 47-14 demolition of Corning.
The Lions put on an offensive fireworks display to gain their first ever road victory on the Bobcat's home field, while improving to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in league play. Manila piled up 439 yards of total offense, including 391 on the ground, punching in seven touchdowns while averaging almost just yards per play on the night. It marked the third consecutive victory for the red hot Lions.
Jake Helton had a banner night, rushing 13 times for 176 yards and two scores, while also completing a 39-yard touchdown strike to D.J. Myers. Aaron Carter also starred, rushing seven times for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Logan Hamilton had a 58-yard touchdown dash while Michael Dixon scored on a 12-yard run.
Carter got Manila on the board at the 4:56 mark of the opening quarter, rambling 43 yards into the end zone. Myers' point after gave the Lions a 7-0 lead.
Helton scrambled 14 yards for the Lion's second score, and with Myers' successful point after, Manila held a 14-0 advantage at the 10:54 mark of the second period.
The Lions stretched their lead to 21-0 when Helton hooked up with Myers on a 39-yard scoring strike with just 56 seconds left in the half.
Corning got on the board when Hunter Tidwell took the ensuing kickoff and scooted 80 yards for a score with 45 seconds remaining before intermission. The two point conversion failed, leaving the Lions ahead 21-6.
Manila came right back after a short kickoff by the Bobcats, gaining possession at their own 42. Hamilton took a handoff from Helton, broke free and raced untouched down the right sideline on a 58-yard scoring play with 24 seconds left in the half. Myers' fourth consecutive point after gave the Lions a 28-6 halftime lead.
Manila took the opening kickoff of the second half and promptly marched 77 yards in nine plays, capped off by Carter's 35-yard touchdown run. Myers delivered the point after to push the Lion advantage to 35-6.
Cole Haywood scored from six yards out with five seconds left in the third quarter to cut the Lion lead to 35-14, but Manila added two more fourth quarter scores to set the final margin. Helton bolted 50 yards for his second score of the night with 11:46 left in the game, before Dixon capped off the evening with a 12-yard run at the 3:22 mark.
Helton finished the night two for four through the air for 48 yards and a score. Myers caught two passes for 48 yards and a touchdown and also rushed once for 23 yards. Dixon finished with six carries for 27 yards and a touchdown, Hamilton had one carry for 58 yards and a score while Joe South rushed twice for seven yards. Myers and Layton Staggs both had interceptions for the Lions.
Conner Daniels led the Bobcats in rushing, carrying 26 times for 118 yards. Hunter Tillman had five carries for 46 yards while Cole Haygood had eight rushes for 36 yards and a score. Quarterback Matthew Ahrent completed four of eight passes for 51 yards and two interceptions.
"We won convincingly tonight but it still wasn't pretty," said Lion Coach Jerry Castor. "We have to continue to work on the little things. We can't win big ball games until we eliminate the little mistakes. But it was a good game and we played very well in spurts. This means so much to our school and community. It's been a process that started when these kids were in the seventh and eighth grades. They made up their minds that they wanted to have a winning program here at Manila. We have a great group of seniors and another good group coming up behind them. People had better get used to Manila in football. We have a lot of good athletes here. It's just a matter of teaching them what to do. I'm very proud of all of them."
Manila closes out the regular season Thursday night against Hoxie at Lion Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.