By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Head Coach JR Kirby’s game plan toward victory for his Munford Cougars was going well.
Then Millington Trojan senior linebacker Patrick Macon literally snatched away Munford’s method for victory in the first quarter of Friday night’s M&M Bowl.
After the Cougars picked up three first downs on the opening drive in Cougar Stadium, Macon put an end to Munford’s momentum by ripping the ball away from a Cougar ball carrier.
Macon’s robbery of the ball led to a Luke Bell field goal. The Trojans added more points using there passing attack to win the 2014 M&M Bowl 41-13.
“He’s a big physical kids,” Trojans Head Coach Chris Michael said. “He’s going to be able to match most kids with size and strength. When he gets in the pile and those backs are trying to get some extra yards. We’ve got three or four bodies in there, he’s just going to take the ball. And he did a good job of that tonight.”
After Bell’s 27-yard field goal made it 3-0, Millington quarterback Eldon Tyms hooked up with wide out Artavious Thomas in the second quarter from 31-yards out for a touchdown.
Trailing 10-0, the Cougars (3-1) were driving late in the first half trying to cut into the Millington advantage. Near the end zone, Munford attempted a pass. Trojan defensive back Marcus Winston made a leaping interception to kill the Cougar drive at the 9 yard line.
Tyms went to work hitting Kameron Middleton for a big gain near midfield. On the next play Tyms connected with wide receiver Kip Fleming for a 59-yard touchdown and 17-0 lead with less than a minute remaining.
“We were all in and ready to play,” Tyms said. “We had the right mindset. We were in the bus pumped and ready for this rivalry game.
“We really planned this in practice,” he added “We knew we had to come up on offense and we kept building up. Tonight we had to do our thing. I felt comfortable today. I was playing through Christ really. I had great line play too. I had great blocking.”
The Trojans’ defense wasn’t done yet with making big plays. Once again Macon took the ball away in a pile setting up another Millington score. Macon joined teammates like Claude Johnson, Paul Robinson, Thomas Daniels, Sam Stanifer, Deadrick Payton and Dante Pitts in limiting the running attack of the Cougars.
Munford did have some success moving the ball with David Simon, Andrew Thomas, Clayton Richardson and quarterback Jacob Ross.
But when the Trojans needed to make a big play on defense, Pitts and crew seem to make them.
“Coach (Bailey) Waits prepared us all week for this game,” Pitts said. “He told us to be tough and the box would have to handle this game. It was a fight and they weren’t giving up either.
“We had to switch to the defense heavy,” he added. “It helped having so many people down there to clogged things up. There weren’t too many places to run or open space to find.”
The Trojans offense found some open space after the third forced turnover of the Cougars. Tyms located senior wide receiver Demarius Curry this time over the middle. After Curry made a leaping grab, he exploded toward the sideline and crossed the goal line for the 37-yard touchdown and a 24-0 lead at the break.
“I thought they came out and executed in the passing game real well,” Michael noted. “The protection was good, Eldon had plenty of time to throw. The receivers stepped up and they were challenged this week to step up and make some plays to take some pressure off the running game. I thought they all executed really well. We had all kinds of guys making catches.”
In the second half, the Cougars marched down the field into the red zone. And just like their first drive of the game, this Cougar possession ended in a fumble. This time at the one yard line.
“They kept them out of the end zone,” Michael said of his defense. “But we had some issues lining up all night long with the varsity kids. We couldn’t get our D-tackles to line up correctly all night long. Our linebackers weren’t getting them lined up. We got some stops when we needed to but that was a problem.”
Keeping the Cougars out of the end zone led to another Millington score. Bell nailed a 32-yard field goal to make the tally 27-0.
Then Tyms used his legs for the next Millington score in the fourth quarter with a 3-yard run to make the tally 34-0.
“Our young guys got a taste tonight and missed a bunch of tackles,” Michael said. “They got welcomed to varsity football with a couple of drives with them running the ball down there throats. But they needed to get in and see some varsity time.”
The Cougars got on the scoreboard with a Clayton Richardson 3-yard TD run. Millington’s final score of the night came courtesy of D’Monte Kemp racing to the end zone from 59 yards away.
The final TD of the night was Cougar quarterback Jacob Ross navigating the field for a 31-yard score to make the final 41-13.
Both teams will return to league play this Friday with the Cougars hosting Dyer County at 7 p.m. The Trojans (4-0) return home to play the Bartlett Panthers at 7 pm.
“We need all five of them (district games) because all of them count,” Michael concluded. “We want to make sure we take that very seriously. I think our guys know how important that is and the emphasis we put on these district games.”