By TRAE BURROUGHS

Sports Writer

The Mantachie Mustangs opened their 2003 gridiron campaign on the road last Friday night against the Hamilton Lions.

The opening quarter was what one would have expected for an opening game, as both offenses had trouble moving the ball.

The home-standing Lions opened the scoring early in the second quarter with a 21-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Devin Hill to tight end Billy Verner. Montory Fields' PAT was blocked by Mustang defensive lineman Rashad Walker to hold the score at 6-0.

The Mustangs evened the score just before halftime with a 21-yard pass of their own. Junior quarterback Andy Wilburn hit senior wide receiver Johnny Turner on a quick slant for the touchdown.

The Mustangs opted for a two-point conversion but were turned away by the Lions' defense.

Hill hauled in the Mustangs' ensuing kickoff at the Lions' 13-yard line and raced 87 yards for the go-ahead score. Fields added the PAT to give Hamilton a 13-6 advantage which held through intermission.

The Lions capitalized on a Mantachie fumble with 9:35 remaining in the third quarter to increase their lead. The score came courtesy of a 37-yard scamper by Hill. Fields tacked on the extra point for a 20-6 Hamilton lead.

The Mustang defense stepped up late in the fourth quarter and gave their team an opportunity to get back into the game when cornerback Jonathan Aday picked off a Hill pass at the Mantachie 41-yard line.

The Mantachie offense couldn't get into the end zone and the game ended with the Lions taking the 20-6 win.

The Mustangs host North Pontotoc Friday night at 7 p.m.

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