By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In recent years, a night of miscues would have the Trojans doomed. But as assistant coaches Mark Fisher and Darren Garcia walked off the Mooney Bosewell Field for halftime, they knew Millington needed a simple adjustment to erase a 21-16 deficit to the Northpoint Christian School Trojans.
Fisher, Garcia and the rest of the Millington coaching staff challenged the offensive line to win the battle of the line of scrimmage. The Trojans protecting quarterback Tommy Clifton and providing running space for Damarion Dowdy achieved that mission leading to a 31-28 win over Northpoint.
Millington Head Coach Chris Michael embraced some of his players in the team’s postgame huddle for winning a dogfight of a contest. The leader of the Trojans reflected on recent years when his team would have been on the negative side of the score.
They’ve learned perseverance and to not quit,” Michael said. “Coach Fisher said it, they just kept fighting. They just never gave up. They had things going against them. There were some turnovers that stifle momentum.
“There were some penalties that killed momentum,” he continued. “There were some bad field positions that we had to deal with. We had players cramping up. We had players getting dinged up and injured. We even had a player ejected for what I thought was kind of bogus. It was a late hit and he was out of bounds. But to eject him, there were no targeting there. It was a shove out of bounds. There were all kinds of things we had to deal with despite the fact they are a good offensive team.”
Both offenses needed a moment to get settled in the first quarter after turnovers and punts in opening series.
The Trojans from Southaven, Miss., got on the scoreboard first when quarterback Hudson Brown connected with Jackson Thomason for a 20-yard TD with 2:29 remaining in the period.
Millington (3-1) had a quick reply 37 seconds later. Clifton took a quarterback keeper 40 yards to deadlock the game at 7-7.
The Trojans from Flag City U.S.A. grabbed a 10-7 advantage when kicker Eli Roberts drilled a 21-yard field goal.
The visiting Trojans regained the lead at the 6:49 mark of the second quarter when Lance Saulsberry Jr. broke loose for an 18-yard touchdown run. Northpoint was ahead 14-10.
About 2 minutes later, Clifton was in the end zone once again giving Millington back he advantage. The Millington signal caller used his feet to run for a 6-yard TD at the corner of the end zone making the tally 16-14.
Northpoint (1-2) grabbed the lead before the break when Thomason caught another pass from Brown. Thomason reached paydirt from 33 yards out giving the Trojans in blue a 21-16 lead.
The Trojans in black and gold received the ball first to begin the second half. Northpoint forced a fumble 48 seconds into the third quarter.
The Millington defense stepped up to regain possession of the ball. Trojan linebacker Devin Knight deflected a Brown pass into the hands of Garrett Haley. Haley’s interception gave Millington the ball at the 5-yard-line.
Clifton and the Trojans moved the ball down the field quickly when he connected with tight end Cameron Hailey for a 53-yard gain.
A couple of plays later Adrian “Bug” Dowell took a Jet Sweep handoff 44 yards to the end zone for a touchdown and 24-21 Millington lead.
The Trojan defense started to elevate it’s play with players like Romello Thomas, TJ Graves, Hunter Smith, Hunter Lucas, Milton Yarbrough and Contre Macklin.
The pressure applied by the Millington defensive line started to limit Saulsberry and force Brown into rushed passes.
One of Brown’s attempts found Macklin. The sophomore defensive back took the interception to the house for a score. Clifton converted the 2-point conversion giving Millington a 31-21 lead.
Midway in the fourth quarter, Northpoint used the running of Saulsberry to set up a Logan Henry short TD run. The Trojans from Mississippi were within three points.
Millington held off Northpoint for the final 5 minutes and 48 seconds.
“It wasn’t pretty but they just gritted it out,” Michael said. “They made enough plays, different kinds with some defensive plays and some offensive plays. We did some good things on special teams. It was just a good team win. We have plenty to go back and look at to go to work.
“I give them a lot of credit,” he concluded. “That’s a really good offensive team. I was looking at the Shelby Metro stats. They were No. 2 in passing and No. 4 overall in the entire area for overall offense. So I knew they were going to be formidable for our defense to deal with.”
Millington returns to action next week at home hosting the Trezevant Bears with a scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff.