By Thomas Sellers Jr.
ARLINGTON — The Millington Trojans escaped from Bolton with a 20-13 victory.
If you don’t think escape is the appropriate word, just ask Trojans Head Coach Chris Michael to recap the final 2 minutes of Friday night’s game against the league rival Wildcats. Ahead 20-6 in the fourth quarter, the Trojans appeared to have a prolonged mental lapse.
“It started with not finishing that last drive,” Michael noted. “ We called a timeout on the 7-yard line. We had two not-good plays on the 7-yard line. We should have punched that ball in. We didn’t do very well on third down.
“And I told the field goal unit, this is a very important field goal,” he continued. “It’s going to stretch the lead because you never know what’s going to happen. Of course we shanked the dang field goal. Everything about trying to close this game out went wrong. We didn’t do anything properly.”
After missing the field goal that would have made the score 23-6 with less than a minute remaining in the game, the Millington defense headed to the 20-yard line trying to nurse a 20-6 advantage.
“We run the defense out there and they run a quarterback draw for 70 yards on the very first play,” Michael said. “Two missed tackles in the backfield, two missed tackles on the second level from the linebackers and two more missed tackles by the safeties on the third level. We just didn’t want to win. It looked like we didn’t want to win or finish it out.”
After Wildcat athlete Ryan Runnels caught a 20-yard TD pass with 35 seconds remaining, the Trojans needed to recover an onside kick just to hold on to victory. The catch on the pending kickoff was Bolton lining up the ball at the 30-yard line.
Millington (2-3) were penalized for roughing the passer and personal foul for jumping over the center to try to block the extra point. Michael was adamant about his staff never coaching that technique.
Bolton’s last ditch effort to gain possession was denied by Trojan DeAnton Yarbrough when the senior recovered the ball. Millington survived and earned its first league win of the 2021 season.
“A lot of credit to their guys,” Michael said of Bolton and Head Coach CJ Marshall. “We were not clean in a lot of areas. We left several points on the field in the first half. We missed some good opportunities.
“We kept the ball in the Red Zone and most of the time had possession in the first and second quarters,” he added. “We were not just able to put it in. We were just outside of field goal range and were not putting ourselves into a groove.”
The first quarter was scoreless with Millington giving up the ball on downs and fumbling a possession away. The Trojans finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter when Trojan Alejandro Guterrez snatched a Bolton pass out of the air. Four minutes later Millington transformed the interception into points when Jaydon Williams crossed the goal line on a TD run with 6:36 minutes left in the half.
The Millington 7-0 halftime advantage disappeared early in the third quarter when Bolton scored on a touchdown pass to make the tally 7-6.
“We got things rolling there in the second half,” Michael said. “Running backs did a good job and the line did a good job of picking up CJ’s blitz (packages). They did a good job of getting after us. We got some decent runs and would get a couple of good gains. Then he would bring the pressure after us and our line did a good job of picking that up.”
Trojan running backs J’vion Todd, Kalik Green and Williams marched behind the offensive line throughout the third quarter. Millington got a pair of touchdown runs from Todd in the second half to build the 20-6 lead.
The Todd TDs were enough to allow the Trojans to be victorious at Bolton. Now Millington will face another road test traveling to Northpoint in a “Battle of the Trojans.”
“It’s on us for not closing and finishing the games the way we need to finish,” Michael concluded. “Those costly mistakes down the stretch have to be eliminated or they will hurt us in a game down the road. We have to be cleaner and finish out games.”