Lions rally past Bobcats 26-16
Manila overcame an 8-0 deficit and rallied past the Corning Bobcats 26-16 in 3A-3 senior high football action Friday night at Lion Field. In doing so, the Lions handed the Bobcats their 28th consecutive defeat, dropping Corning to 0-6 on the season. The win upped Manila’s record to 2-4 overall and conference mark to 2-1.
Junior quarterback Lane Sims sparked the Lion comeback, rushing 30 times for 123 yards and a touchdown while passing for 68 yards and another score. Manila outgained Corning 264 to 254. The Lions rushed 57 times for 196 yards, while holding the Bobcats to just 60 yards on 28 carries. Corning did find success through the air, as quarterback Matt Ahrent completed 11-16 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown. Ahrent’s favorite target was wide receiver Clint Hovis, who snared six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Brett Carter had a big night for the Lions, rushing 10 times for 42 yards and a score, while catching three passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Logan Hamilton had 15 carries for 26 yards and pulled in a pair of passes for 21 more.
The two teams battled to a scoreless tie after the first quarter. The Bobcats got on the scoreboard first when running back Clay Smith blasted into the end zone from one yard out at the 7:05 mark of the second period. Smith’s touchdown was set up when Ahrent hooked up with Hovis on a 66-yard pass play, setting up Corning at the Lion one-yard line. Ahrent tacked on the two-point conversion run and Corning held an 8-0 lead.
Manila answered on their next possession, putting together an 11-play, 56-yard scoring drive, capped off when Sims tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Carter with just 1:45 left before halftime. Sims’ two-point conversion pass fell incomplete, leaving the Bobcats with an 8-6 advantage.
The Manila coaching staff went to their bag of tricks on the ensuing kickoff, executing a perfect onside kick off the foot of Hamilton. The Lions recovered and had a first down at midfield. A 22-yard run by Sims had the Lions in business at the Bobcat 22. After a four-yard Carter rush, Sims took over and carried four straight times, scoring on a five-yard scamper with just 11 seconds left in the half. Sims added the two-point conversion run, giving Manila a 14-8 lead at intermission.
Neither team could get on the scoreboard in the third quarter, although the Bobcats drove into Manila territory before being stopped when Grant Salzer picked off an Ahrent pass, ending the Corning drive.
The Lions gained breathing room early in the fourth quarter when Carter barreled into the end zone from one yard out. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but Manila held a two-score lead, 20-8, with nine minutes to go in the game.
Lion defensive tackle Carlos Flores jumped on a Smith fumble on Corning’s next possession, giving the Lions excellent field position at the Bobcat 31-yard line. But the Corning defense stiffened and took over on downs. With newfound momentum, Corning went to the air. Ahrent fired a 36-yard pass to Scottie Wilson, moving the Bobcats into Lion territory just past midfield. After a procedure penalty moved Corning back five yards, Ahrent found Hovis over the middle, and the speedy Bobcat receiver dashed 51 yards to pay dirt, slicing the Lion lead to 20-14. Ahrent added the two-point conversion run, and suddenly Manila held a precarious 20-16 lead.
On the Lions’ next possession, Corning’s defense stiffened again, forcing a Manila punt. Hamilton boomed a high floating kick that was downed by Dalton Slaughter on the Bobcat two-yard line with just 3:44 left in the game. A personal foul penalty gave the Bobcats breathing room at their own 20, but on the very next play Smith fumbled, and Manila’s Ethan Navarro fell on the ball at the Bobcat 22. Cameron Wilson scooted in from three yards out for the game’s final score with 2:17 left.
Corning put together one last desperation drive, but the Bobcat threat ended at the Lion 23 when Kyle Bell picked off a Clay Smith pass.
“Corning is a much-improved football team,” said Lion Coach Jerry Castor. “We are both similar schools, but we just happened to come out on top this time. We missed some scoring opportunities we should have had, and that was disappointing, but we pulled the game out. We were glad to get the win. The kids played hard. Corning gave us some trouble with their passing game. We tried to put some pressure on their quarterback, but we didn’t get the pressure we needed. But our kids played good and I was proud of them. I thought the difference in the game was Corning’s turnovers and their penalties. Logan Hamilton did a great job on the onside kick. He punted the ball well tonight. Offensively, we moved the ball well. We are just happy and proud for these kids.”
Manila returns to conference play next week when they host Piggott Friday night at Lion Field.