By Thomas Sellers Jr.
With an area rival coming to town, the Millington Trojans had a chance to start building momentum before November.
But the Covington Chargers jumped out to a 21-7 lead before halftime. The Trojans came out of the locker with a new attitude in the second half Friday night.
Despite Millington sophomore running back Gabe Christopher tearing up the turf of Mooney Boswell Field with his cleats, the Trojans’ comeback fell short 21-20.
“We turned the ball over in the first half,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said. “You can’t turn the ball over because if you do you can’t be beat good teams. They have a good scheme and they’re good at what they do.
“They ran a lot of dive option tonight,” he added. “We’ve seen it on film but we just haven’t seen much of it. So it put us in a bind. They got big plays off of it in the first half.”
Millington’s only score in the first half came courtesy of quarterback Tommy Clifton. The Trojans endured hardships with Covington’s triple-option attack in the first with the Chargers transforming Millington turnovers into scores.
Adding to the issues, Millington junior running back Justin Coleman twisted his knee missing the second half. That set the table for Christopher as the top option of Clifton in the backfield.
“We came out in the second half and I thought the guys executed what we wanted them to do defensively,” Michael said. “We were able to shut them down offensively and get the ball back to our offense.”
The Trojans’ fortune started to turn for the better early in the second half when D’Monte Kemp forced a fumble at the 44-yard line. A few plays later Christopher gave Covington a taste of its own medicine transforming the turnover into an 8-yard TD run. The score was 21-14.
Trailing by a touchdown the Trojans mounted another drive featuring a big run by Christopher deep into Charger territory.
Clifton tossed the ball to Kemp and the senior blasted into the end zone for the 7-yard TD run. Covington was able to block the extra point to keep the score at 21-20.
“Some untimely penalties hurt some drives and put us in a bad down and distance situations,” Michael noted. “Not executing on a few plays, we had a few guys open at times and just missed some throws. Kids were trying hard but just couldn’t complete the plays that were right there in front of them.”
With less than 4 minutes left in the contest the Trojans had one more opportunity to win the game. Facing a fourth down situation with less than a minute, Clifton dropped back and threw a pass in the direction of Kemp. The ball just missed his fingertips and hit the turf giving Covington the victory.
“We play a bunch of young kids — a ton of them,” Michael said. “I just hope they don’t get their spirits broke because of what they’ve gone through. I hope it makes them tough and mentally strong to stand up and face this adversity. I hope they know they’ll wake up and the sun going to raise tomorrow. At the end of day it’s just a game.
“But they are right there and real close to being a really good football team,” he continued. “Sometimes that inexperience is something you have to grow through. They’ve got to learn how important it is to pay attention to the little things in practice. Those little things will make the difference between first down after a third down situation.”
Millington will wrap up the 2016 season welcoming the Craigmont Chiefs next Friday. The game will be Senior Night prior to kickoff at 7 p.m.
“It’s the last one at home,” Michael said. “We want to send the seniors out with a win. We want to define the home. It’s a league game and could put us in third in the league. We’re going to be on the road no matter what, both of us.
We don’t even know the teams we’ll play yet,” he concluded. “We could speculate. It’s just a pride game. It’s a league game and it is for seeding — the 3 spot. But for us, we’ve got to put 4 quarters together.”