Hoxie clinches share of 3A-3 title with 34-6 win over Manila

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Manila quarterback Jake Helton picks up a chunk of yardage on senior night. The Lions closed out the regular season with a 34-6 loss to conference co-champion Hoxie

Hoxie clinched a share of the 3A-3 conference championship, spoiling Manila's senior night with a 34-6 victory Friday night at Lion Field.

The Mustangs (8-2, 6-1 3A-3) share the league title with Rivercrest, who pulled out a one point victory over Osceola on Friday. Manila finishes the regular season with a 6-4 overall mark and a 4-3 slate in league play, their first winning record since resuming football nine years ago. The loss gives the Lions a number five seed in this week's state playoffs, where Manila will travel to face number one seeded Smackover Friday night.

The Mustangs piled up 406 yards total offense, including 351 on the ground, led by the backfield tandem of James Johnson and Diamani Davis. Johnson, Hoxie's slippery senior quarterback, weaved his way through the Lion defense for 188 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 27 carries, while Davis, the Pony tailback, rambled for 145 yards and a score on 26 rushes.

Lion defenders Aaron Carter (30) and Timmy Smith (14) pull down Hoxie running back Gunnar Riggs Friday night at Manila.

Manila took the opening kickoff and drove from its own 30 to the Mustang 10 for a first and goal. Jake Helton ripped off runs of 11, 24 and 15 yards to set up the Lion scoring opportunity, but a pair of bad snaps and two incompletions handed the ball to Hoxie at the Mustang 35.

It took Johnson just four plays to put the Mustangs on the board when the Hoxie signal caller hooked up with wide receiver Austen Blocker on a 45-yard touchdown strike over the top of the Lion defense. Casey Middlecoff added the point after, giving Hoxie a 7-0 lead with 4:31 left in the opening quarter.

The Mustang defense forced a three and out on Manila's next possession. After a Lion punt, Hoxie took over at its own 17 and methodically marched down the field 83 yards in 14 plays, scoring when Johnson dove into the end zone to finish off a 10-yard scamper up the middle. Middlecoff tacked on the point after and the Mustangs held a 14-0 advantage at the 8:03 mark of the second period.

Lion wide receiver Timmy Smith fights for yardage after catching a pass from quarterback Jake Helton in the Lion's 34-6 loss to Hoxie Friday night at Lion Field.

Hoxie scored on its next possession after holding Manila on another three and out. The Mustangs traveled 59 yards in nine plays, scoring when Johnson scooted into the end zone from three yards out to grab a 20-0 lead with 2:38 left in the half. Manila freshman Layne Sims blocked Middlecoff's point after attempt.

Hoxie threatened to score again before intermission, but Lion cornerback D.J. Myers picked off a Johnson pass in the end zone to thwart the Mustang scoring threat.

Hoxie took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove the length of the field, going 84 yards in 12 plays. Samuel Hatfield raced into the end zone for the touchdown on a nine-yard jet sweep with 7:22 left in the third quarter. Hoxie's two point conversion attempt failed, leaving the Mustangs up 26-0.

Manila defensive back D.J. Myers cuts down Hoxie running back Diamani Davis in 3A-3 conference football action Friday night at Manila.

The Lions finally gave a packed stadium something to cheer about when Helton crashed into the end zone from 10 yards away at the 3:44 mark of the third quarter. Helton's score capped off a nine play, 80-yard march that was highlighted by the senior quarterback's 26-yard pass to Tyler Archer. Manila's two point conversion attempt failed, and the Lions trailed 26-6.

Hoxie finished off the scoring when Davis battled his way into the end zone on a five-yard run at the 1:48 mark of the third quarter. Johnson added the two point conversion, giving the Mustangs a 34-6 lead.

Hoxie's defense limited Manila to just 162 yards total offense on the night. Helton had 100 yards rushing on 23 carries while fellow senior Aaron Carter finished with 13 yards on 10 rushes. Timmy Smith carried once for four yards. Helton completed three of eight passes for 45 yards while Brett Sweatman connected on one pass for three yards. Smith led the Lions in receiving with two catches for 16 yards. Archer had one grab for 26 while Carter had one catch for six yards.

"We got beat by a good football team tonight," said Lion Coach Jerry Castor. "They are conference champs. They came in ready to go and we weren't quite ready to play them tonight. We had a chance to score early but kind of shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of bad snaps. They have a real good combination in their backfield with Johnson and Davis. We couldn't get them down tonight. They are good players. We just didn't play our best tonight. We will regroup and get ready for the state playoffs."

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