Seeing the final score of 54-31 Friday night in Newbern might give people the idea that Munford took care of Dyer County easily in a Region 8-5A showdown.
Those watching the game live, however, know the Cougars had to fight the entire game for a win that three third quarter Braxton Sharp touchdown runs all but sealed.
It started with Dyer County’s (2-4 overall, 0-3 region) defense holding Munford (6-0, 2-0) to a Braxton Brown 40-yard field goal with 3:15 left in the first quarter. Dyer County running back Braylin Taylor responded by scoring a 42-yard touchdown to give the Choctaws the lead 7-3 with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
Three plays into the next drive, La’Derrick Moore brought down Munford quarterback Jordan Bell, the first time he had been sacked this season. Bell kept that in mind five plays later when he threw a 24-yard pass to Isaiah Cobbs that turned into a touchdown, taking the lead 9-7 with 8:19 left before half.
On Dyer County’s next possession, Munford’s defense wasn’t allowing Taylor to get past the line of scrimmage with two big tackles: the first one was a no-gain and the second was a loss of two until QB Landon Daniels decided to throw a pass to Jamin Gauldin that turned into a 74-yard touchdown that took the lead away from the Cougars, 13-9.
The Cougars moved the ball quickly on their next drive with runs from Sharp and Cobbs. A Bell run put the ball at the Dyer County three-yard line and Jace Hodgin punched it in from there for a 16-13 Munford lead.
Dyer County had a chance to score before halftime with Taylor and Ja’Bari Livingston moving the ball before two key catches by Drew Evans put the ball at the 10, but the drive ended there.
Sharp came back from the locker room with a purpose. He came up with touchdown runs of 59, 18 and 12 yards and 12-yards- brought the lead to 39-13 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
But Taylor, who finished with 152 rushing yards, came up with a huge 46-yard TD run that put the ball on the Munford two. Livingston scored in the next play to trim the lead to 39-19.
Sharp, in three plays, moved the ball from the 50 to the 10-yard line. That led to a Cobbs (109 yards receiving nine catches) touchdown catch that put Munford up 47-19 early in the fourth quarter.
Livingston, who finished with two touchdowns and 77 rushing yards on 10 carries, ran for a 52-yard touchdown the very next play, but Sharp got one more touchdown run to extend the lead to 54-25.
Sharp finished the game with 23 carries, 241 rushing yards and four touchdowns (all in the second half), making this the third straight game the running back has scored four touchdowns.
He had a good game, but Munford head coach Slade Calhoun not only applauded him, but the rest of the offense as Bell, Cobbs, Hodgin (13 carries, 113 yards) and their linemen played a huge role in this win.
Despite the big win over a region opponent, the biggest problem for the Cougars was the defense giving up 31 points, more than the previous five games combined.
“We got things to fix,” Sharp said about the defense. “That’s not usual for us, but we’re going to fix it.”
Calhoun hopes that his players giving up 31 points will be a “wake-up call” for them.
On Friday, the Cougars are back at home against their neighbor Brighton in another region game. Sharp, who transferred from Brighton to Munford last spring, is excited to play against his old teammates.
“It’s going to be good to show them me in a new jersey.” Sharp said.