There was lots of offensive star power on display Friday night at Crump Stadium in Memphis.
Munford running back Auvic White was nearly unstoppable with 194 rushing yards and four touchdowns and Cougar quarterback Jordan Bell made several game-changing plays on his way to 172 all-purpose yards.
Central running back Jamarious Brooks, the area’s leading rusher, set a regular season Shelby-Metro record for touchdowns in a season and rushed for 229 yards.
But in the end it all came down to the right foot of Braxton Brown, Munford’s junior placekicker.
Brown kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired to give a Munford a wild 30-29 win that clinched the Cougars’ second straight Region 8-5A title.
“I was getting a little nervous,” Brown said about the moments before his walk-off field goal, “but at the end of the day you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m thankful I had an O-line in front of me, a great snap and a great hold.”
Munford head coach Slade Calhoun said his kicker practices a ton.
“He probably makes 300 a day. He kicks on weekends, all the time. He’s just nuts.”
Brown’s kick was the final step of an amazing Munford (8-2 overall, 6-0 region) comeback.
White’s three-yard touchdown run with 7:49 left in the game cut Central’s lead to 29-21. Bell completed a 27-yard pass to Hunter Gill to set up another White touchdown run, but Bell was stopped on the ensuing two-point attempt and Central (8-2, 5-1) led 29-27 with 1:51 left.
The game appeared to be over, but D.J. Vassar recovered Brown’s onside kick at midfield and Munford was still alive. Bell broke a 26-yard run on the next play and the Cougars advanced to the six yard line. Munford had time to run at least one more play and try and get in the end zone, but Calhoun chose to let the clock run down to one second and call timeout to set up Brown’s game winner.
“It came down to we felt like we could make an extra point to win the game,” Calhoun said. “We sure didn’t want to kick off again and we sure didn’t want to give them another possession. That all factored into it … I was kind of like, ‘Why snap it again?'”
The scene on the field after Brown’s kick was wild. When the ball went through the uprights Brown sprinted toward the sideline as everybody looked for somebody to hug. Several Central players took a knee and seemed in disbelief that Munford scored 19 points over the final seven minutes.
“We kept our composure and stayed disciplined,” Bell said when asked to explain the comeback. “Vic (Auvic White) told me to stay calm and I did that. We did what we had to do.”
White, who has a gift for oration, gave the team a pep talk before the game.
“If you heard my speech at the very beginning of the game, I talked about discipline, I talked about tenacity and resilience,” White said. “I prayed and I know when I pray God is going to help me, no matter the circumstance.”
Things did not start well for Munford. A punt snap out of the end zone and a 71-yard touchdown run by Brooks put the Cougars behind 9-0 midway through the first quarter. After Bell broke a 69-yard run, White scored from the nine to cut the lead to 9-7. A six-yard touchdown run by White put Munford ahead 14-9 early in the second quarter, but Munford did not score again until the fourth quarter.
Munford will host Portland Friday in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Central will host Kenwood.