By Thomas Sellers Jr.
After the Millington Trojan defense forces a Brighton on third down in overtime, it was all up to the Trojan offense to break the 28-28 tie.
The thrilling seesaw battle between the Trojans and Cardinals had both sides of Brighton Football Stadium standing in anticipation as Millington’s offense took the field at the 10-yard line.
With spectators still in suspense, there was one person in the stadium who knew the game was a done deal. Trojan senior athlete Lakeron Garcia already had four touchdowns on the night and he was confident No. 5 was on its way.
“Before they even called the play, I knew I was going to be in the end zone,” he said moments after the Trojans’ 34-28 win. “I prayed and I was talking to Dana. I told him, ‘I’m gonna do this for you.’ I told my team, ‘I got them. Every time I touch the ball, I’m doing it for them.’ I wanted to leave it all out there on the field. I’m taking them all the way.”
Garcia took his team to victory with his 10-yard TD run and kept his promise to his fallen teammate Dana Payne. Before kickoff Friday night, Garcia could be heard telling teammates, coaches and even some Cardinal faithful, ‘Tell them, I’m going to be in the end zone all night.’
Thanks to Garcia and big plays from both teams, the latest installment of the Brighton Cardinals vs. Millington Trojans was an epic.
Brighton entered the contest with an opening week win over Carver. Will Wolfe’s squad featured multiple weapons on offense under the direction of senior quarterback Colton Hathcock. On defense the Cardinals were led by highly recruited defensive lineman Charles Mosley.
The Trojans entered the Brighton game still looking for an identity on offense after losing to the Germantown Red Devils 13-3.
“I was really disgusted with our performance from last week, penalties, turnovers and just not getting out of our own way,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said. “Not to take anything from Germantown because that’s a good football team, We just couldn’t do anything last week.
“And we compounded it with our mistakes,” he added. “Even though we had our share of mistakes tonight, we got on the kids pretty good about that last two or three minutes of that Germantown. On how they got down on themselves and each other. Brighton is a good football team. Coach Wolfe always puts a good product on the field. We were fortunate tonight. We both made mistakes tonight but we were able to pull it out in the end.”
Millington jumped out to a two-score lead in the first quarter taking advantage of Cardinal miscues and field position. Garcia helped the Trojans take a 12-0 lead in the first quarter with two touchdowns, with the first a 9-yard scamper. That touchdown was set up by a Brighton fumble recovery by CJ Harris.
Millington (1-1) went up 12-0 when Garcia snatched down a screen pass from quarterback Eldon Tyms for a 29-yard score.
In just 12 minutes of action against Brighton, Garcia touched the ball more than he did in the entire Germantown contest.
“Lakeron, the people who follow Millington Football, know what kind of playmaker he is,” Michael noted. “The coaches know what type of playmaker he is. Leaving him out there in the slot, then we’re depending on the defense and quarterback on how many times he can touch the ball. The coaches got together and talked about and got him back there in the backfield.”
It was the Brighton backfield that came to life in the second quarter bringing the Cardinals roaring back. The combination of Hathcock to Kolton Childress set up a Blue Currie 1-yard touchdown to make the score 12-7. Brighton (1-1) took the lead when the Trojans fumbled setting up another Currie touchdown run.
Behind 14-12, the Trojans drove down the field setting up a Garcia 4-yard run across the goal line. He added the two-point conversion to give Millington a 20-14 lead with 40 second left in the half.
But that lead lasted for 14 seconds. Cardinal speedster Nick Easley field the kickoff inside the 10-yard line and broke a couple of tackles on his way to the end zone and giving Brighton a 21-20 halftime lead.
Currie’s third touchdown of the night in the third quarter made the score 28-20. That was the tally as the fourth quarter started. A safety on a bad snap in the end zone helped the Trojans pull to within 28-22.
Millington had one more drive in regulation to try to win the game with 2 minutes and 24 seconds remaining. Tyms drove the Trojans down the field including a big reception from receiver Demarius Curry. With 55 second left on the clock Garcia found paydirt again taking another screen pass through the Brighton defense. The extra point was no-good leaving the score tied at 28-28.
In overtime, the Millington defense forced a fumble setting the table for Garcia’s fifth touchdown to win the game.
“Never,” Garcia said of imaging a 5-touchdown game. “I was dreaming for games like that. I was doing what I had to do. It feels good to score the winning touchdown and have five touchdowns.
“We went hard,” he added. “We told ourselves, ‘We ain’t playing anymore. We’re not taking anymore L’s.’ We told the O-Line, ‘If you block, we’re getting in the end zone.’ I love them and all I can tell them is keep doing what you’re doing. I couldn’t do it without my team. This was just one step. We’re taking it one game at a time. We have to keep going hard in practice.”
Michael said it was the work of the offensive line and the blocking of the receiver corps. like Chris Sanders, Kip Fleming, Hunter Waits and Curry that made Garcia’s big night possible.
“The offensive line was miles better this week,” he said. “We had a 6’6, 360 nose guard being recruited by the SEC and he was limited this week. The line did a really good job of neutralizing him.”
Mosley had a sack, a couple of stops in the backfield and some pressures. But the Trojans were able to get around force in the middle down the stretch.
Michael said the Trojans are happy to have win No. 1 but still have several areas that need improvement.
But for the moment, Michael and the Trojans celebrated a win over their rivals. In the past four meetings, the Cardinals and Trojans are 2-2. Michael noted when two evenly matched teams hit the gridiron, all phases of the game will determine the winner.
“It is the little things,” he concluded. “It’s not just those five linemen we line up there. It’s those four receivers when we run the ball that are crucial. Last week we didn’t do a good job of blocking on the perimeter.”
The Cardinals are off this week. Meanwhile the Trojans travel to Cordova this Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.