By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Over the years the annual game featuring rivals the Munford Cougars vs. Millington Trojans has seen its share of memorable moments.
Some of the highlights over the years are Millington’s Miguel Barnes scoring six touchdowns, Eric Knowlton saving the day for Millington with a 71-yard TD run in the fourth quarter or Derek Pierce ending Munford’s losing streak last season with touchdown and conversion.
In the 2013 edition of the M&M Bowl, Millington sophomore quarterback Eldon Tyms added his name and a moment to the legacy of the rivalry.
Ahead 6-0 in the first quarter Friday night, Tyms was driving the Trojans toward another score when a crazy play took place on the Millington Football Stadium field.
“It’s the M&M Bowl and every year there’s crazy plays one way or the other,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said. “Just expect it. That was a bad read by Eldon and a bad throw by Eldon. The receiver did a good job of getting back and stripping that ball.
“Eldon in an effort to get over there and make a tackle, by the time he gets over there to make the tackle the ball rips out and hits him in the hand,” he continued. “Then he does a good job of running it in and breaking a couple of tackles to get it in the end zone. That’s what you come to expect from this game.”
That Tyms touchdown was one of the big plays for the Trojans leading to a 39-0 win over the Cougars, returning the M&M Bowl Trophy back to Flag City.
The first big play of the game came 16 second into the contest. Tyms to senior wide out Chris Sanders was good for 82 yards and a 6-0 Millington lead.
“We ran a bubble on the back side,” Sanders recalled. “I just ran my route and my boy Eldon got it to me. I just ran it to the house, caught it in stride.”
Munford wasn’t able to move the ball in its first possession. On the Trojans second offensive series of the game, senior weapon Lakeron “Keeboo” Garica made a 43-yard reception to the 10 yard line. Then two plays later the Tyms touchdown run took place.
Facing a second down, with 15 yards to go, Tyms dropped back and tried to fire a pass over the large Cougar defensive line. Munford’s Andrea’ Bell was able to tip the ball into one of his teammate’s hands for an interception.
Not giving up on the play when the Munford defensive back fumbled the ball into midair, Tyms was on the spot to retrieve the ball. He took off toward the end zone for a score giving the Trojans a 12-0 lead.
Millington’s next score in the first quarter was more conventional when Tyms dropped back and hit wide receiver Damarius Curry for a 38-yard touchdown pass to make the tally 19-0.
The combination of Tyms to Curry worked one more time in the second quarter for a 41-yard TD reception giving the Trojans a 26-0 halftime advantage.
Millington’s offensive line led by senior Kraig Robinson provided Tyms with time to find Curry on those plays. Robinson and his underclassmen mates Angelo Pirtle, Deadrick Payton, Victor Carrassco and Josh Taylor have come together the last three games to help the Trojans stay unbeaten since the season-opening defeat to Germantown.
“All we did all week was pass block and run block making sure we had our keys and everything,” Robinson noted. “What we did on the field tonight is what we’ve done in practice all week. We worked hard on it.
“We changed and got a new front,” he added. “Our front is better now and we’ve worked hard to get to where we are now.”
Ahead 26-0 at the break, the Trojans were ready to put the finishing touches on the 2013 M&M Bowl. And the stellar play of the offensive line continued. And the “Black Hats” on the Trojan defense stepped up their play to maintain the shutout.
Millington iced the M&M Bowl in the third quarter with two scores courtesy of Tyms’ arm. The sophomore signal caller hit receivers Kip Fleming and Hunter Waits respectively.
The Fleming touchdown came with 4 minutes and 40 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The sophomore receiver got loose behind the Cougar secondary and hauled in a 25-yard pass in the corner of the end zone to make the score 33-0.
With less than 2 minute left in the period, Tyms dropped back and hit Waits on a slant route. The senior wide out broke a tackle and fought for the last few yards stretching the ball over the goal line for the 17-yard TD.
Then the Millington defense locked down on Munford (1-3) to keep the Cougars scoreless. Some of the Trojan defenders to make highlight plays were Earl King, Ladarion Lewis, CJ Harris, Quentin Harrison, Paul Robinson, Patrick Macon, Delvin Williamson, Kameron Middleton and Jonathan Clements.
“Overall we just ran our base defense,” Macon noted. “It ended up with me getting an interception. Then also the dogs got a couple of sacks and a couple of forced fumbles. It’s pretty much we played our basic keys and did our reads. And as you can see the results.
“It wasn’t revenge that motivated us,” he continued. “This is something we want to do every week, just get our offense back out there.”
Munford won last year’s M&M Bowl 29-28. It was the Cougars first win in the rivalry in 10 years. Michael and his group didn’t focus on the 2012 game preparing for this year’s M&M Bowl. With Munford graduating several seniors and bringing in a new coach with Ahmaad Galloway, Michael took another approach for Munford week.
“We had a good week of preparation,” he said. “It was a hot, long week. The heat jumped back up in our area. But the kids came out and we went back after that Cordova game to look back at what we were doing. Fundamentally, we were just backing down in a lot of places on the defensive side of the ball. We went to the basics, back to our roots on what we had worked on coming out of camp.”
Michael said that approach helped the defense earn it’s first shutout of the season and reveiled there are more offensive weapons for Tyms beside Garica.
“We know and the people around our district know what kind of player Keeboo is,” he said. “You know what you’re going to get out of him night in and night out. But for us to be successful and get to where we want to get, we’ve got to have contributions from other people on the field. We’ve got a lot of great skill players we put out there.
“Eldon is doing a better job of making his reads,” Michael continued. “But he still threw some bad passes. A little bit had to do with their pressure. They pressure him early. And they got after him. They have some big, tall guys. He was trying to throw through lanes and through hands. He couldn’t see some of the defenders they had out there and made some bad throws.”
Tyms did get one of his bad passes back for a touchdown run. But Michael wants to eliminate the interceptions and continue to see his young signal caller progress.
For now the Trojans regain the M&M Bowl Trophy and have bragging rights along Highway 51 after beating Brighton and Munford. And Millington is still on a mission to prove they are one of the best teams in the area.
“They downgraded us so that made us want to come out here and prove something,” Robinson concluded. “We want to earn respect.”
The Trojans will step back into District 14-3A play next Friday traveling to Bartlett for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Cougars are back on the road Friday heading to Dyer County.