Late score stuns Lions
Newport 27, Manila 26 -- Newport's Jerry Ellis sprinted 63 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and a controversial call snuffed out Manila's last minute comeback bid as the Greyhounds rallied for a 27-26 victory, handing the Lions a heartbreaking loss in their regular season finale Friday night at Newport.
The victory gave the Greyhounds a share of the 3A-3 conference championship, along with Rivercrest. Manila, who finished 5-5, will enter the state playoffs as a number five seed and will face Junction City, a number two seed, Friday night on the road. The Dragons finished the season with a 7-3 mark.
Ellis electrified the home crowd by taking the opening kickoff and racing 85 yards untouched into the end zone to give the Greyhounds a 7-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game.
Manila answered, putting together a methodical 16 play, 68-yard scoring drive that ate up almost eight minutes of the first quarter. Senior quarterback Patrick Tanner capped off the drive with a 16-yard pass to tight end Tyler Archer, who made a juggling catch in the back of the end zone. Newport blocked D. J. Myers' point after attempt to maintain a 7-6 edge.
The two teams traded possessions before the Lions struck pay dirt when safety Timmy Smith picked off a Cash Forrester pass and returned it 30 yards for a Manila touchdown. Myers hooked his point after attempt to the left, but the Lions held a 12-7 lead with 11:13 left in the second quarter.
Manila took advantage of another Greyhound turnover when Smith pounced on a Tyler Calamese fumble after a 20-yard completion by Forrester at the Newport 47. Smith bolted 19 yards to set up the Lions at the Newport 28. Three plays netted minus three yards, putting Manila in a fourth and 13 situation at the Greyhound 31. Sophomore quarterback Layne Sims spotted a wide-open Archer at the five yard line, and the senior tight end hauled in the pass and trotted across the goal line, giving Manila an 18-7 advantage with 9:03 left in the half. The two point conversion attempt failed.
The Lions took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 55 yards for another touchdown. Tanner hooked up with Myers on a 37-yard touchdown strike with 8:52 left in the third period to put Manila up 22-7. Smith, who caught a 23-yard pass from Tanner to set up the score, rambled in with the two point conversion and the Lions held a 26-7 lead.
Newport fought back and drove to the Manila 37, where they faced a third and five. Greyhound running back Jay Crite seemed to be trapped for a loss, but slipped the tackle of Lion linebacker Tyler Johnson and sprinted 36 yards to the Manila one. Forrester found Julius Pruitt for a one yard touchdown pass two plays later, and the point after sliced the Lion lead to 26-14 with 6:36 left in the third.
Newport got on the board again early in the fourth quarter when Ellis dashed 28 yards for his second touchdown of the game. Ellis' 35-yard run earlier in the drive set up the score. The point after attempt was true, and suddenly the Greyhounds were within five, 26-21.
The two teams swapped punts, until Newport took over at their own 34-yard line with 4:53 left in the game. On second down, Ellis found a crease and galloped 63 yards down the right sideline for his third score of the game, giving the Greyhounds a 27-26 lead with 4:02 remaining. The two point conversion attempt failed.
Manila had two final chances with the ball. The first possession ended on downs at the Lion 41, but Manila caught a huge break when Greyhound running back Jordan Neal fumbled with Johnson pouncing on the ball at the Lion 28 with 1:43 showing on the clock. After two incomplete passes, Manila faced a third and 10. Sims flipped a short pass to Myers, who was flagged for attempting a forward lateral, but the Lions were flagged for an illegal forward pass and were penalized with a loss of down. What appeared to be a fourth and 15 coming up for Manila ended with the ball being awarded to Newport, following a long discussion by the officials. Lion coach Jerry Castor argued the ruling, to no avail, and the Greyhounds proceeded to run out the clock, sealing their victory.
"I don't like to complain about the officiating, but they took a down away from us," said Castor. "And after looking at the film, it wasn't a forward lateral, even though it was close. But our kids played hard tonight and I was proud of them. We hurt ourselves on special teams, giving up 10 points. We've got a couple of things we've got to get straightened out, but we'll be alright. We'll go to Junction City next week and hopefully we'll play as well as we did tonight."
Ellis finished the game with 176 yards on 17 carries. Forrester completed eight of 15 passes for 65 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Manila had trouble running the ball all night against the stingy Greyhound defensive front, finishing with just 47 yards rushing on 41 carries. The Lions did find success through the air, as Tanner completed 10-15 passes for 119 yards and two scores. Sims went three for eight for 31 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Myers led Manila in receiving, catching a season high nine passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Archer hauled in three receptions for 60 yards and two scores. Smith caught one pass for 23 yards and rushed five times for 38 yards. Tanner carried 20 times for 41 yards.