In a hard-fought battle to open the TSSAA Class 5A of the playoffs, the East Mustangs emerged as the victors on the Millington Football Stadium turf.
The host and No. 4 seeded Millington Trojans got a late interception return for a touchdowns with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game. But the No. 5 seeded Mustangs ran out the clock to win and advance 19-14.
East will play at Henry County next week. The No. 1 seeded Patriots defeated Kenwood 52-8 in the opening round Friday night.
The Mustangs (9-2) jumped out 7-0 against Millington after taking advantage of a Trojan fumble at the 28 yard line. East made the short march to the end zone capping off the drive with a Devante Turner 7-yard TD run with a minute and 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Trojans (6-5) tied the score at 7-7 in the second quarter when LaKeron Garcia scored on a 7-yard run of his own. The scoreboard read 7-7 at the break.
Midway through the third quarter East regained the lead at 13-7 when Turner crossed the goal line from 5 yards out.
Then the Mustangs went ahead 19-7 after a blocked field goal was returned to the 14-yard line. To capitalize on the turnover, East fed the ball to fullback Roderick Fields for a 3-yard TD with 8 second left in the period.
The Millington defense held East scoreless in the fourth quarter including a stop on downs. With 2 minutes and 58 seconds remaining, the Trojan defense came up with a big play giving Millington some hope.
Linebacker Dante Pitts intercepted a Marvellous Jackson pass near the East sideline. Pitts raced down the field to the end zone for the 40-yard pick-six to make the score 19-14.
But East was able to get enough first downs to run out the clock and end the Millington season.
IN OTHER ACTION
Franklin Road Academy defeated the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels 34-21 in the first round of the Division II-A playoffs.
In Class 6A First Round action, the Memphis Central Warriors won a shootout in Brighton 54-48 to eliminate the Cardinals.