By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Turnovers, miscues, penalties and missed opportunities plagued both the Millington Trojans and Brighton Cardinals Friday night on Mooney Boswell Field.
The Trojans endured a majority of their woes in the first half, meanwhile the Cardinals suffered from costly errors during crunch time to fall 20-7. The defeat dropped Brighton to 1-1 and Millington improved to 2-0 on the season.
“It took a lot maturity because when you’re in a battle like this, you had everything going against you like we did in the first half,” Trojan Head Coach Chris Michael said. “Despite we were in the lead, it was one bad break after another one. Some we brought on ourselves. And some unfortunately we were dealt and didn’t deserve.
“The guys kept fighting,” he added. “And that’s the sign of a mature team. I was proud of that part. They didn’t lose their heads and the defense kept bowing their backs and standing up to get the ball back for the offense.”
Millington had a Eldon Tyms TD pass called back because of a holding penalty in the first half. A personal foul call on the Trojans kept a Brighton drive alive. Despite those costly flags, the Trojans were ahead 10-7 at the break behind a Tyms to Kip Fleming 30-yard touchdown pass and Luke Bell 32-yard field goal.
After Bell’s field goal early in the second quarter, the Trojans were ahead 10-0. Brighton had an answer less than 3 minutes later when Austin Kelly connected with Austin Breland from 18-yards out to make the tally 10-7. That scoring play was set up by a 27-yard reception to Terrel Wayne White.
The Cardinals trailed by 3 points at the break. Brighton never was able to take the lead because of the play of Millington defenders like Claude Johnson, Thomas Daniels, Dante Pitts, Deadrick Payton, Paul Robinson and Patrick Macon Jr.
“With the defense, every time we’ll get into a bad situation we just step up,” Macon said. “That’s what we do because we’re all in. That’s what we had to do to get the win.”
Macon had two sacks in the game including a 9-yard loss in the fourth quarter. Payne made tackles in the backfield along with Pitts.
“It was good to have Deadrick back in the fold and getting him good minutes,” Michael said. “That allowed us to keep Pirtle fresh and not play as many minutes on the defensive side of the ball. They had a bunch of big guys so Deadrick and Thomas Daniels were fighting their butts off in the pass rush. They did a good job on the edge.
“Dante and Patrick did a solid job on the inside along with Claude and Paul,” he continued. “That inside rush did a great job with the run. With a team that spreads you all out like you do and you have to move all your secondary around to take care of all the pass responsibilities you leave that box vulnerable. And those six guys took care of the box to pretty much shut down the run.”
The Millington defense kept Brighton in neutral and the Trojans’ special teams helped ice the game.
Pressure forced a bad Brighton punt giving the Trojans the ball on the 12-yard line late in the third quarter. Millington capitalized on the great field position a few plays later with a Keno Taylor 2-yard TD run to make the score 17-7.
In the fourth quarter Bell used his maturity and punting skills to keep Millington in favorable field position.
“Luke, I thought he kicked the ball well,” Michael said. “He kept in positions within the tee so they wouldn’t get good returns. In the punting game, Josh hurt his elbow and we had to put in a back-up snapper. We had some horrible snaps and Luke took his time scooping up the ball, surviving the situation and really putting a foot on it to change the field position when it looked like it was going to be something bad on our behalf.”
Speaking of field position, the Cardinals faced a first down and 78 yards to go in the fourth quarter because of several penalty calls. Macon said the pressure by the Trojans caused those Brighton infractions.
“I could really tell we were in their heads because whenever we would get up from a play, they were throwing little remarks,” he noted. “I told my guys, ‘Keep your calm.’ And that helped get us the win.”
The final scoring play of the night came courtesy of Bell’s foot with a 24-yard field goal with 34 seconds remaining.
The Cardinals have a bye this Friday before taking on the Covington Chargers Sept. 12. The Trojans will welcome the Cordova Wolves to town this Friday for a District 14-3A match up and 7 p.m. kickoff.
“Like every other game, we prepare hard and work hard,” Macon said. “We just have to work a little extra harder since they put them ahead of us to get the win hopefully.”
Michael said his team has to be more focused on offense and take advantage of opportunities they allowed to slip away against Germantown and Brighton. The Millington defense has only allowed 7 points in two game and Michael said they will have to step up to another level against the Wolves this week.
“It will be tough,” he noted. “Cordova is a lot like Brighton. They’re going to be loaded with skill players and athletes. They’re probably going to have some big monsters on the offensive and defensive lines. They’re going to do similar to what Brighton does and be balance.
“We’re going to have to be ready especially with it being a league game,” Michael concluded. “It’s the first one for the both of us. There’s going to be a lot on the line and probably a pretty intense atmosphere. Hopefully we’ll have another big crowd on hand, even bigger fan support like we did tonight.”