By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Millington Trojans snatched defeat from the hands of victory Friday night.
The St. Benedict Eagles did their part to make sure the Trojans would come up short on the turf of Mooney Bosewell Field. The visiting Eagles remained unbeaten on the season, outlasting the Trojans 22-7.
“I will them give credit because they have a good team,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said. “They made plays. But some of those were our own undoing. We had snaps over our heads at bad times, putting ourselves in bad situations.
“We’d get a chance to get a stop and then turn the ball right back over,” he continued. “We made bad throws. We had mistakes on special teams. They’re trying to figure out how to do this thing and win. They’re fighting hard. The execution was not as good as we wanted. But we had so many people playing out of position because of depth issues. We knew we were going to struggle with some of our execution.”
St. Benedict Head Coach John Cooley’s squad executed enough in the first half to lead 14-7 by halftime. The Eagles (4-0) survived an eventful first quarter to go ahead 8-0.
St. Benedict’s first drive concluded losing the ball on downs. After a Millington punt, the Eagles were intercepted by Trojan Josh Allred making a leaping catch at the 8-yard line.
The Trojans (1-4) were forced to punt, giving the Eagles the ball at the 38-yard line. St. Benedict drove the ball 62 yards for the first touchdown of the night. Eagle Elijah Mills set up the first TD with a big run.
Mills capped off the drive with a 3-yard run into the end zone. St. Benedict tight end Jack Ross caught the two-point version attempt to make the score 8-0.
The Trojans answered back before the first quarter concluded when quarterback Tommy Clifton tossed the ball on a sweep to Jer’fonzo Smith. Smith exploded toward the outside almost untouched for an 8-yard touchdown run. The score was 8-7 in favor of the Eagles.
Late in the second quarter St. Benedict created some breathing room when Weston McAlexander bulldozed his way through the Trojan defense for a 12-yard touchdown run. The tally was 14-7 after the extra-point miss.
Millington’s next drive appeared to end in disaster when St. Benedict forced a short punt to Jaylen Powell. Powell raced to the end zone untouched, appearing to make the score 20-7. But a roughing-the-punter penalty was thrown on the Eagles, eliminating the touchdown with 59 seconds left in the first half.
St. Benedict’s 14-7 halftime lead increased to 22-7 midway through the third quarter. Mills scored his second TD of the night with 6:32 remaining in the period from 7 yards out.
Eagle quarterback Jesse Komoroski added the two points with a run.
“The ones out there playing tonight that were giving it four-quarters of fight, they know they can play this game,” Michael said of his Trojans. “Some of this stuff is starting to register with them. They’ve got to take it over here (practice field). The attention to detail, those things you don’t want to put an emphasis on during the week at practice, it shows up. It’s starting to register with them when they have offensive or defensive breakdowns.”
Millington endured a couple of breakdowns offensively and on special teams in the fourth quarter, stopping comeback opportunities. The Eagles left Flag City with their perfect record intact. St. Benedict will jump back into action next Friday at home against the Manassas Tigers.
Meanwhile the Trojans head back on the road to Memphis to take on the Raleigh-Egypt Pharaohs Friday at 7 p.m. Michael said one of the negatives from the St. Benedict game is trying to regain health and needing younger players to step up to increase the depth. But the veteran coach said many positives came from the game with his players showing heart and potential to make a run in the second half of the season.
“I want to see them have a positive attitude,” he said. “I want to see them still believe they can go out there and compete at a high level. I want to see them out there on that practice field everyday and continue to work to improve on execution.
“So when they do step out on this field on Friday night, they can compete at a high level,” Michael concluded. “And if they do that, they’re going to give themselves a chance to win all five of those ball games.”