By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Cordova Wolves threw the first punches last Friday in Millington.
The host Trojans were on the ropes down 10-0 at the break in the District 14-3A showdown. Then Millington responded to the 8-count getting off the canvas to swing back with 10 quick point in the third quarter to tie the game.
With the black and gold side of Mooney Boswell Field back into the game, the Wolves silenced the crowd with a haymaker touchdown on fourth down and 13 from the 23-yard line.
But the Trojans survived that blow and used a one-two combination of a Deadrick Payton fumble recovery touchdown and Eldon Tyms quarterback keeper in overtime to prevail 23-16.
“That’s a good football team,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said about Cordova. “They’re 100-something strong with tons of athletes. They’ve got great size and Coach Jones does a great job. He has those kids buying in. They play great football. He’s got good quarterback play. They always have running backs. They’ll put you in a bind and stretch you out from sideline to sideline.
“Our defense bent some tonight,” he continued. “We got caught in a couple of bad positions. And they made some plays. But overall I thought defensively we were able to get ourselves back doing in the second half. We took away some of the things they wanted to do and did just enough on the defensive side of the ball to get the win.”
In the slugfest, the biggest blow for Millington might have been Payton’s touchdown early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 16-16.
“You do have to get lucky,” Michael said. “They’ve had some issues with their snaps. Our defense end were way undersize. They’re both about 200 pounds. And their offensive tackles are in the 350 range. They were fighting a war all night long. But one thing they did do was fight to get up field all night long to get pressure on the quarterback.
“It just so happen Deadrick got a good push on the offensive tackle’s shoulder,” he added. “That ball spurted through the quarterback’s hand and rolled back there. And Deadrick just outraced the quarterback to the ball and fought for it. He came up with a big play after we gave up a big play on a fourth down and long for a touchdown to fall behind.”
The Trojans received solid play from defensive ends Payton and Thomas Daniel to go along with others. After the Wolves (1-2, 0-1 in District 14-3A) jumped ahead 10-0, Trojans like Patrick Macon, Angelo Pirtle, Dante Pitts, Paul Robinson and Claude Johnson did a better job of neutralizing the Cordova running attack.
Cordova scored on a 23-yard touchdown pass in the opening quarter and then added a 20-yard field goal late in the second quarter to lead by 10 points at the break.
The Trojans (3-0, 1-0) rallied in the second half. Cordova fumbled the ball on its first possession of the second half. The Millington offense took advantage of the short field with a Bell 30-yard field goal to make the score 10-3.
Less than 3 minutes later the Trojans tied the game at 10-10 with a Keno Taylor 7-yard TD run.
To close out the third quarter the Wolves regained the lead with another 23-yard touchdown pass on a fourth down play. The extra point was no-good and Cordova led 16-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Wolves regain control of the ball on offense but started to have trouble with the center to quarterback snap. In a shotgun formation, the long snaps started to miss their target. With 7:41 left in the game, one Cordova snap landed in the end zone with Payton racing toward the ball. His recovery was good for his first varsity touchdown and a 16-16 tied.
“It feels great because everyday at practice, we go all in and work hard,” Payton said. “It really paid off going all in. And those sprints really paid off.
“I was thinking, ‘Go get it before he does,’” he added. “My heart was racing. I held it in and kept a cool head. It’s my first varsity touchdown. It felt great.”
The rest of regulation went scoreless.
In overtime the Trojans were first on offense. Millington signal caller Eldon Tyms raced into the end zone from 3 yards out on third down. Luke Bell added the extra point to make the score 23-16.
The Wolves had their chance to win the game with first and goal from the 10-yard line. The Millington defense was able to stop the Wolves on fourth down knocking down a pass. Holding Cordova scoreless set up an undefeated battle for Friday’s M&M Bowl in Munford.
The Munford Cougars (3-0) put another mark in the win column beating the MLK Rams last Friday 34-0 at home