Tribe Battles Lions With Playoffs at Stake
The Piggott Mohawk's hopes for a playoff berth took a hit Friday night, as the Tribe dropped a 36-29 senior night loss to the Manila Lions. Currently, the Mohawks stand at 2-3 in conference, out of playoff contention. But, with two games left on the regular season schedule they may still advance to the postseason, as the top five teams will be playing from 3A-3.
As for the Lions, they were coming off the emotional win over Rivercrest and were trying to avoid a letdown. But, the Manila squad remained focused on the task at hand as they battled their hosts in what will be remembered as a competitive and exciting contest.
The Mohawks won the coin toss, but deferred to the second half, giving the Lions first shot on offense. And, the visitors took full advantage of the opportunity as they marched downfield to draw first blood. The score came on a 27 yard run by Aaron Carter, but the D.J. Myers PAT attempt was no good, and with 11:09 left in the first quarter the Lions led 6-0.
Later in the first quarter the Mohawks would answer with a 16 yard touchdown run by senior Landon Williams. Another senior playing in his final home game, Seth Lacy, added the PAT, and the Tribe led 7-6 about mid-way through the quarter. On the following Lion drive the offense moved the ball into Piggott territory, but ran out of steam leading to a 32 yard Myers field goal, giving the Lions a 9-7 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff Piggott's Logan Dixon put on an exhibition with an 84 yard return, outrunning several Manila defenders en route to the end zone. Once again Lacy added the PAT, and the Mohawks re-took the lead at 14-9 with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter.
Also playing in his final home game, Dixon would strike again early in the second quarter, this time on offense as he broke through the Lion's defense and carried the ball 88 yards for his second TD of the night. Once again Lacy hit the PAT, and the score moved to 21-9 in favor of the host team.
But, again the Lions answered the call on the following drive, with quarterback Jake Helton carrying it in from eight yards out to score with 9:25 to play in the first half. Myers added the PAT, and the score moved to 21-16.
Manila would score once more in the first half, getting the ball back mid-way through the second quarter and pushing it downfield by way of several big runs by Helton and Carter. The drive was capped with a 30 yard touchdown pass from Helton to Tyler Archer. This time Myers' PAT was good, and the Lions took a 23-21 advantage into the halftime intermission.
The Mohawks got the ball first in the second half, and re-took the lead with 7:48 to go in the third quarter as Cody Crittenden scored on an eight yard touchdown run. Quarterback Bret Fuller added the two-point conversion for the Mohawks, as they pulled ahead 29-23.
But, the lead would be short-lived for the Tribe, as the Lions tied the game on the following kickoff as Timmy Smith ran it back 95 yards for yet another Manila touchdown. This time the Mohawks blocked Myers' PAT attempt, as the two teams stood tied at 29-29 with 7:33 to play.
The Mohawks tried to respond on the following drive, which ended on a fourth and short play deep in Lion territory. With time running out, the Lions put together a late game drive which ended with Helton carrying it in from 12 yards out with 1:33 to play in the contest. This time Myers' PAT was good, and the final score was set at 36-29.
"That was a tough one to take," Coach Michael Harrell noted immediately following the loss. But, the second year coach remained positive in speaking with his team, reminding them at least one more win could elevate them into the fifth and final playoff spot in conference.
"Keep your heads up, we've got more football to play, and we still have a good chance," he urged.
Despite the close score, the Lions dominated on offense with 435 yards while the Mohawks had 298 yards in total offense. Pacing the Mohawks was Dixon with 134 yards on 12 carries, as he surpassed the 1,100 yard rushing mark on the season, Williams had 56 yards on 10 carries, Crittenden had 26 yards on five carries, and all three scored touchdowns. Meanwhile, Fuller rushed 5 times for 50 yards and was 1 for 4 passing.
Manila's Carter led all rushers with 168 yards on 21 carries while Helton carried the ball 24 times for 119 yards. Helton was also 2 for 6 for 37 yards with one touchdown, and one interception as he was picked-off by Piggott's Caleb Welborn.
With the loss the Mohawks fall to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in conference play, with two games left in the regular season. Currently Rivercrest and Hoxie have the top two spots at 4-1 in conference, while Manila stands at 3-2 along with Cedar Ridge and Osceola and the Mohawks drop to 2-3 just out of the playoff hunt. Rounding out the 3A-3 standings are Melbourne at 1-4 and Corning at 0-5.
Friday night the Mohawks will visit the Hoxie Mustangs, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. They'll close out the regular season on Thursday, Nov. 5, as they visit the winless Corning Bobcats to contend for the Rice Bowl trophy for 2015.