By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Everybody attending Friday night’s game at Mooney Bosewell Field knew the Trojans wearing black and gold would be victorious.
Most experts prior to the kickoff of Dyersburg at Millington would have picked the Trojans of Dyer County to win the contest. But after the opening drive it looked like the Trojans from Shelby County were on pace for the upset courtesy of a Jer’fonzo Smith 15-yard touchdown run.
The Millington Trojans were competitive for 22 minutes and 2 seconds of the first half only trailing 22-14.
“With a minute and 58 seconds to go, we had just scored,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael recalled. “Then we imploded defensively, after a drive that we took almost 9 minutes off the clock in the second quarter. When we got possession of the ball, we were talking about it. Let’s possess the ball and take our time. Let’s be methodical here and keep their offense off the field.
“Defensively we couldn’t do what we wanted to do to stop them,” he acknowledged. “We didn’t have enough. Then with a minute to go, it’s a passing situation even for a running team. They’ve got the lead, it’s before half. So you know they’re going to put the ball up.”
Dyersburg put the ball up for grabs twice. The Trojans from up further North scored twice before halftime pulling away for a 50-21 victory.
Millington (1-3) opened the game with Clifton finding Josh Allred for a 22-yard gain on a leaping catch. Smith took care of the rest with the TD run. Clifton’s second notable pass of the game capped off a long drive in the second quarter with the junior signal caller locating Devin Knight from 7-yards out. The tally was 22-14.
Dyersburg put up 22 points with scores from Christopher Russell, Daviaon Henderson and Daniel Gates crossing the goal line.
The Dyersburg Trojans went ahead 28-14 with 49 seconds left in the first half when Henderson ran for a 4-yard score after a big pass set up first and goal.
Millington looked to answer but suffered a fumble. The turnover proved to be costly when Russell caught a 34-yard pass and raced to the end zone giving Dyersburg a 36-14 halftime advantage.
“It just snowballed,” Michael said. “We hadn’t been able to stop their traps or sweeps all night. So in the second half they hit a big run.”
Dyersburg (4-0) raced down the field to start the third quarter leading to Henderson’s third score of the night. His 2-yard blast into the end zone made the tally 43-14.
Later in the period Dyersburg reached the 50-point mark when Israel Barbee broke loose for a 22-yard touchdown run.
The final touchdown of the night came from Smith’s second scoring run. The senior running back found paydirt once again from 15 yards out making the final 50-21.
“I hope we have somebody left,” Michael acknowledged. “Back to back with what we have been running into, my quarterback was playing middle linebacker for the whole game. Because all of my other linebackers didn’t even dress.
“I took a defensive end and move him to linebacker,” he continued. “Had a freshman playing linebacker. We had nobody to play linebacker except for Kyle. He’s the only linebacker we have left. We had everybody playing linebacker by committee.”
Dyersburg kept the first defense in the game the entire 48 minutes. Michael noted his offensive unit has continued to progress with a young offensive line. But the Millington defense is suffering in the middle with several linebackers down.
“These kids have to mentally preserved,” he said. “Hope they’re taking away positives. The small things that they are doing, especially on the offensive side of the ball, Coach never took his starting defense out of the game.”
Before the Trojans enter Region play later this month at Fayette Ware, the St. Benedict Eagles are coming to Flag City next Friday night.
“Mentally they’ve got to stay up,” Michael said. “This four game stretch of Munford, Germantown, Dyersburg and St. Benedict, can they come out of it mentally and still have something left? Are we’re going to be able to preserve and endure what we have to endure?
“Because all of these teams are very good football teams,” he concluded. “We’re going to have our hands full no matter how well we play. Now what I was afraid of has happen. We have so many hurt.”