There was a time the annual M & M Bowl between the rival Munford Cougars and Millington Trojans was the first game of the season.
Then it moved to early September and now the showdown along Highway 51 has managed to be the second contest for both teams each year. So another aspect that has become a tradition of the rivalry is injures.
The Cougars traveled down the highway Friday night with a few players banged up after a loss to the Covington Chargers. Millington started 2021 with an overtime defeat that claimed a pair of seniors, Levy Smith and T.J. Graves, off the line.
With both Munford head coach Slade Calhoun and Millington head coach Chris Michaels making adjustments seeking win No. 1, it was the Cougars, using the talents of sophomore quarterback Jordan Bell, prevailing 39-13.
“This week we actually got film on somebody and actually got a chance to prepare,” Calhoun said. “I thought Millington improve tremendously from last week and we had some guys out. We started some really young guys. We started a freshman on defense. We made our share of mistakes. There’s no such thing as a bad win, so I’ll take it.”
Munford’s road to its first win of 2021 started rocky with the Trojans marching down the field on the opening possession. Millington had a 30-yard field goal attempt blocked by Cougar Hunter Gill.
The Cougars (1-1) transformed their first possession of the game into a Bell to Mason Madill 27-yard TD reception. An Auvic White jump pass to Gill added two points to make the tally 8-0 with 4:50 left in the first quarter.
Later in the period, White’s rushing set up another Bell touchdown pass. This time the sophomore connected with Jermyah Davis. Davis broke a couple of Millington tackles to reach pay dirt from 23 yards out to make the score 14-0.
Munford went ahead 22-0 in the second quarter when Bell used his running skills to reach the end zone from 13 yards out. White added the two-point conversion on a run.
“Excuse my English, there ain’t no questioning Jordan Bell’s ability,” Calhoun said. “He’s got all the ability in the world. He’s going to improve his decision making as he matures. You have to remember he’s only 14 years old. That’s 1-4, he’s 14-years old. I am over-the-moon happy about him and we have all the faith in the world in him. It’s a joy just to watch him grow.”
Bell completed 5 of 13 passes for 90 yards and also rushed 12 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns. White had a huge night as well with 143 rushing yards on 21 carries. Aubrey Durham added 67 yards on eight carries.
Millington (0-2) displayed some fight midway through the second quarter with McCoy Pugh hitting running back Jaydon Williams on a swing pass for 59 yards to the 12-yard-line. Moments later Cortlynn Barnes put the Trojans on the scoreboard with a one-yard TD run.
With the score 22-7, Bell gave the Cougars more breathing room before the break with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Tristan Bohannon. Then an Icarius Hodgin interception late in the second quarter led to a 30-yard field goal by Braxton Brown. Munford was ahead 32-7 going into the locker room.
Both teams had one score in the second half. Bell’s final highlight of the night game in the fourth quarter, weaving through the Millington defense for a 68-yard touchdown run that made the score 39-7.
Pugh to Brandon Warner was the final scoring play of the 2021 M&M Bowl. The 13-yard touchdown connection made the final score 39-13.
When the final buzzer sounded throughout the Millington Football Stadium, several Trojans, including senior wide out Garrett Haley, limped off Mooney Boswell Field.
“No depth, no experience and what few players that we had who played last year are injured now,” Michael noted. “We pretty much played the second half with ninth and 10th graders. We played most of the first half with ninth and 10th graders … We really played a lot of freshmen in the second half because we really didn’t have anybody else. Pretty much everybody who was on the field except for Jeremiah and RJ Allen and Jevon Todd made it through. Beside those three players, everybody else is a first-year varsity football player.”
Munford heads back home next Friday with the Red Devils of Douglass on the schedule.
“We’ll plan for Douglass. We don’t underestimate anybody. There’s a ton of teaching from this film tonight. We’re going to get those corrections made whoever we play next Friday night, and I hope we play Douglass. But we’re going to find a game. We’re going to play and then we’ve got some really tough games coming up with some tough regional opponents. We’ve got to fix us before we can worry about anybody else.”