Lions Fall in OT
The Lions visited the Piggott Mohawks Friday night for a contest with playoff implications, and fell in overtime 21-20. Of greater impact is the loss of junior running back Logan Hamilton to an apparent concussion, as the team prepares to host Osceola.
Coming off back-to-back wins over the Mohawks, including last year's road win which propelled the Lions into the playoffs, the somewhat battered Manila team was on hand for the PHS homecoming activities. Afterward, the teams treated the partisan crowd to a hard-hitting affair which came down to the final play of overtime. For the hosts, the scenario was eerily similar to the previous Friday night, as they visited Newport for homecoming and came out on the short end of a one point decision.
The hosts won the coin toss to begin the game, and chose to defer to the second half. On the opening kick-off the tone was set, as Kyle Bell was dropped on the 14 by Piggott's John Jones.
The Manila offense also set the tone early, as quarterback Patrick Tanner came out passing on the first two plays from scrimmage. The drive was extended on a horse collar tackle by Piggott's Gunner Shaw, and the host team was called for encroachment on the following play.
Tanner looked for Timmy Smith on second down, but the pass sailed over the hands of the Lion receiver. The Lions were stuffed at the line of scrimmage on fourth and five, prompting a Manila punt.
The kick was a good one, rolling deep into the Mohawk's territory to the nine yard line.
The host team would then put together a long drive, culminating with a Justin Goding touchdown run with 1:56 to go in the first quarter. The Mohawks added the PAT, and enjoyed a 7-0 advantage late in the first quarter.
The Lions began their second drive on their own 29 with Hamilton picking up a short gain up the middle. On second down Tanner hit Myers on a swing pass, but a clipping penalty negated the gain. Tanner was then dropped for a big loss, bringing up a third and 25. Timmy Smith got a good piece of the yardage back on the reverse sweep, but the Lions were once again forced to punt the ball away.
Gossett was flushed from the pocket, and ran the ball to the 32 for the Mohawks as the quarter drew to a close. On the first play of the second Harrell carried the ball into the teeth of the Lion defense, with Marcos Flores making the stop. Jones then tried the middle, with Smith and Johnson combining for the tackle to bring up fourth and six. Flores then made a huge play for the Lions, breaking through the Piggott line to drop Gossett for a loss. The Lions then took over on downs at their own 35 with 8:36 to go in the first half.
Tanner got a short gainer up the middle on the first play of the drive, then broke into the Mohawk secondary for a first down. Hamilton was dropped for a four yard loss on the following play, and then caught a screen pass for a short gain. Tanner then hit Myers across the middle for the first down, giving the Lions a first down at the Mohawk 32 with 6:00 to go in the first half.
The Piggott defense held Manila in check on first and second down, with Hamilton losing the handle on first down but it was recovered by the Lions. On second down he was unable to connect on a screen play, and the drive began to falter. But, Tanner responded by hitting Myers across the middle for a first down. He looked to Hamilton on the next down, but it fell incomplete, and Tanner took a hard shot from the Piggott defense to bring up third down. The Lions once again looked to their signal-caller on third down, but he was dropped on the quarterback draw to make it fourth a 11. Tanner responded with a first down pass, setting up a Timmy Smith touchdown run moments later on the sweep left.
The Lions then went for the PAT, and the tie, but the kick was blocked by the Mohawk special teams led by senior Bret Fuller.
With under three minutes to play in the half the Mohawks tried to mount a drive, but Myers made a key tackle to stifle the drive. Manila would also get one more chance before intermission, but had a pass attempt tipped-away by Fuller, and Tanner was stuffed by the Piggott defensive line, led by junior tackle Nate Mallard. Coach Jerry Castor then chose to let the clock run out, and regroup at the half.
The opening kickoff of the second half was a deep one, with the Mohawks taking over on the 20 by way of the touchback. Piggott then mounted their second scoring drive, aided by a late hit on Manila's Josh South. Jones carried the ball down to the Lion 17, and moments later carried it into the end zone with 6:41 to go in the third. Myers was also shaken-up on the play, and replaced by Kyle Bell on the PAT. Fuller added the kick, and the hosts extended their lead to 14-6.
On the ensuing kickoff return Piggott's Brandon Wellman was called for a late hit, giving the Lions good field position. Initially, the Mohawk defense proved stingy, but on a third and eight play from the 38, Tyler Archer caught a Tanner pass and ran through the Piggott defense to paydirt.
Coach Castor chose to go for the two-point conversion, and the tie, and the pass attempt was tipped-away by Fuller. But, the Mohawks were called for roughing the passer, and assessed a penalty of half the distance to the goal. Given another opportunity, Smith carried the ball in for the conversion to make it a 14-14 ballgame with 4:52 to go in the third quarter.
The remainder of regulation was a back-and-forth affair, and although both teams threatened neither could break the deadlock.
The Mohawks were hampered by a holding penalty on the ensuing drive, then picked up a key first down. Carlos Flores was shaken-up on the following play, and had to be helped to the sideline. Moments later Gossett was flushed by the Lions defense, and threw into a crowd and was intercepted by Smith near the goal line.
But, the Lions could find little room to move the ball and were forced to punt from their own endzone.
Piggott also had trouble moving the football in the late going of regulation, despite several good runs by fullback Lane Buchannon. Johnson made a key stop for the Lions in the drive, but was also shaken-up and had to leave the game as the fourth quarter progressed.
Called for false starts two time in a row, the Mohawks lined up to go for a field goal from just outside the Manila 30. The holder, Hayden Lemmons, took the snap and rolled left but was dropped short of the first down on the seven on the fake field goal attempt.
On the following drive the Lions also found little running room, with Smith getting the nod. Tanner looked to Myers on third down, but overthrew his wide reciver, stopping the clock with 1:41 to go in the ballgame. Forced to punt from their own endzone again, the Lions got a break as the Piggott defenders ran into the kicker keeping the drive alive.
On first down Hamilton was gang-tackled and driven hard into the turf, prompting an injury timeout. He was helped from the field, and treated by EMTs from Piggott Community Hospital and Mohawk team physician Dr. Greg Mallard. Later he was transported to PCH for evaluation according to Coach Castor, and is expected to be out for at least the next contest.
Tanner got a good gain on the keeper on second down, then looked to Myers in the flat on third. The pass was tipped-away once again by Fuller, who narrowly missed a pick-six. Forced to punt, the Lions kicked the ball out to around mid-field where the Mohawks would take their last shot in regulation.
The Lion defense flushed Gossett on first down, burning up much of the 23 second to play in the quarter. The Mohawks then took a shot downfield, which was complete, but time expired sending the game into overtime.
The Mohawks would get first shot in OT, with Harrell picking up four yards on first down. Shaw carried the ball on second down for no gain, with Jones carrying the football down to the three on third down and goal. Gossett got the nod on the keeper on fourth and goal, and followed the Mohawks line into the endzone to break the deadlock. Myers was also shaken-up on the play, and Piggott's Bellers re-aggravated the earlier ankle injury.
Fuller grooved the PAT for the Mohawks, and extended their lead to 21-14.
The Lions then got their chance, with Archer taking it down to the three yard line before being pushed out of bounds by Goding. The Lions lost a couple of yards on second down, as Jones got into the Manila backfield, but Josh Waddell broke the goal line on third down to set the score of 21-20.
Coach Castor then burned a timeout to map a strategy, with the Lions going for the two point conversion, and the win, as opposed to the PAT to tie. But, on the sweep left the Mohawk defense pushed the Manila offense back several yards, preserving the one point win.
"You know we went into overtime there and they scored, got their extra point. We scored, and decided to go for two--let's win the ballgame right there," Coach Castor said of the decision. "We didn't make it, but that was the choice we made, and I felt like it was the right choice to make."
Castor noted he and his coaching staff knew what to expect of the Mohawks, and added that he was pleased for the most part with the performance.
"We knew Piggott, and what they were going to do, we've played them before and we knew we had to play good inside, and we did play good inside," he offered. "But, they played a great ballgame also, it was a four-to-five yard game for them, and we struggled just a bit. You know we're a big play team, and there were a couple of times when we should have converted when we didn't, and that really hurt us a bit. But, overall I'm pleased with the kids and I thought they did a great job."
More importantly to the Lions, and the remaining schedule, is the loss of Hamilton.
"The Hamilton kid will probably be out, I think he's got a concussion, we'll find out a little more about him in a minute," Castor said. "You know, we're a banged-up football team right now, we played without five of our players tonight. So, we're just going to re-group and move on to next week and Osceola."
With the loss the Lions fall to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play while the Mohawks improve to 6-1 and 3-1. Currently, Newport remains in first place at 4-0 in conference, while Piggott and Rivercrest are both 3-1, although the Mohawks own the tiebreaker over the Colts. The Lions and this week's opponent, Osceola, are both 2-2 and hold down the fourth and fifth places with Walnut Ridge and Hoxie at 1-3 out of the playoff hunt and Corning occupying the cellar at 0-4 in conference play.
The Lions will host the Seminoles Friday night with kickoff set for 7 p.m.