By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The district showdown between the East Mustangs and Millington Trojans had a lot on the line.
The Mustangs made the trip from Memphis to Mooney Boswell Field looking to remain unbeaten in league play to set up a Oct. 28 with Ridgeway for the title.
Meanwhile the host Trojans entered the Millington Football Stadium Friday night looking to keep their hopes alive to host a playoff game in November.
Millington looked to be on course leading 20-19 after two quarters. But the Mustangs (7-1, 3-0) displayed why they are one of the top ranked teams in Tennessee behind the running of Timothy Taylor to pull away 40-20.
“Offensively, we were still able to move the ball a little there in the second half,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said. “But in the second half offensively we had some penalties. We had some drives going then we would have a holding penalty that cost us. It put us in a bad down and distance.
“Our objective was to control the ball and be affective in the run,” he added. “And I think we did a good job of that tonight. But the penalties and mistakes got us behind the sticks in the second half and that’s what slowed us down.”
The Trojans (2-6, 1-2) won the first half against East behind a pair of D’Monte Kemp kickoff return touchdowns. Kemp took the opening kick 88 yards racing up his sideline to the end zone. Stephen Carter added the extra point to make the score 7-0.
Millington was ahead by a touchdown heading into the second period. The Mustangs tied the score 7-7 when Justin Lynn found Jaylon Burrus for a 29-yard TD reception.
The Trojans answered with a drive highlighted by a Tommy Clifton to Dayan Miller 40-yard pass to the 1-yard line. Clifton capped off the drive with a quarterback sneak to regain the lead 13-7.
After the Mustang tied the game at 13-13 with 6:15 left in the first half, Kemp struck again. The senior speedster blasted through the East tacklers. After making one extra juke move, Kemp was in the house again giving the Trojans a 20-13 lead.
The Mustangs trimmed the Millington advantage before halftime with a big special team’s play of their own. After an East 67-yard punt return to end zone the halftime score was 20-19 in favor of Millington.
Then the contest turned into “The Timothy Taylor Show.” The senior athlete score early in the third quarter to regain the lead for East.
“They got in the I-formation and lined those big bodies up against us and just ran straight downhill against us,” Michael said. “We were tired and they were slipping out of a lot of our tackles. That running back, that kid is a phenomenal running back. You can’t just get him down with just one. He’s going to run through arm tackles. You have to have three or four on him.”
After a two-point conversion, the Mustangs were ahead 27-20.
Taylor added a 13-yard touchdown run and later scored on a toss sweep in the fourth quarter to make the final 40-20.
East will take on MLK Prep next week before facing Ridgeway for the district crown. Meanwhile Millington will host Covington next Friday. Then the 2016 regular season will conclude with the Trojans hosting Craigmont in a third/fourth place showdown in the league.
Michael said the solid showing against East should inspire his team to finish strong against Covington and Craigmont in the final two regular season contest.
“Anytime you’re battling a season like this, you’re looking for those nuggets to keep them motivated so they’ll believe in what they’re doing,” he concluded. “I hope they saw in the first half that they have to come out and play together and execute. They’ll have to eliminate those second half mistakes so they can stay on the field and be successful.”