In a battle of elite signal callers, Millington outlasts FACS

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By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Sometimes witnessing history can be unbelievable for those directly involved.

Millington Trojans Head Coach Chris Michael was breathing a sigh of relief with his family in the north end zone of Mooney Bosewell Field enjoying his team’s 41-34 win over the FACS Crusaders in an instant classic.

Throughout the night, one storyline of the game was FACS senior quarterback trying to out-duel Millington’s 12th grade signal caller Tommy Clifton. Michael knew his veteran QB stepped up to the challenge all night but not to a school-record pace.

“Did he score 6 touchdowns?” Michael asked after receiving the news of Clifton’s performance. “I didn’t even realize that. I knew he was in the end zone a lot. I knew he made some incredible runs.”

Clifton rushed for 299 yards and reached the end zone 6 times joining Trojan legends Ahmaad Galloway and Miguel Barnes. FACS’ Cole Putnam tried to match Clifton step for step Friday night running for 245 yards and 4 scores.

“Rightfully so, they have a senior quarterback,” Michael continued. “And we’ve got a senior quarterback. Those two guys, a much as I would have loved to completely shut him down, it’s just hard to do.

“I’m sure it was nice from the fans’ prospective to see high school football with two great quarterbacks going at each other,” he added. “That was a heck of a battle with the performances both kids put up. Tommy just kept matching them and the offense kept matching them.”

Entering the game between against the West 10 Media’s Power 10 No. 10 Crusaders, the No. 6 Trojans figured they could be in a shootout.

Millington (5-1) wanted to establish a ground attack with Clifton and Damarion Dowdy. The Trojans ate more than 7 minutes off the clock on the opening drive. Clifton capped off the Millington effort with a 22-yard TD run to make the score 7-0.

“We felt like we could have some success offensively watching them on film,” Michael noted. “We thought there were some good match ups. We thought we had a chance at being controlling at the line of scrimmage. And we just needed to get the offense rolling. We needed to be consistent.”

The Crusaders (3-3) came prepared offensively answering the Millington score. Putnam connected with receiver Larry Giles III to set up the touchdown. On the next play Putnam kept the pigskin to reach the end zone from 14 yards out.

FACS broke the 7-7 deadlock in the second quarter when Putnam broke loose for a 83 yard touchdown run to make the tally 13-7.

Moments later Clifton had the answer for the Trojans reaching the house with a 9-yard TD run. The score was 13-13 at the break on Millington’s Homecoming Night.

As newly crowned Queen Sky Clark was still taking photos with her court near the South end zone, Clifton was racing his way toward the hoopla. The senior exploded for a 76-yard TD to regain the lead for Millington at 20-13 early in the third quarter.

About 2 minutes later Putnam tossed a 26-yard touchdown pass to even up the contest at 20-20. Clifton and his offensive line would break the tie in less than 2 minutes. Clifton set up his 6-yard touchdown run with a 30-yard scamper.

Millington’s 27-20 advantage was trimmed to 27-26 at the 3:31 mark of the third quarter when Putnam cut through the Trojan defense for a 43-yard run to the end zone.

The Trojans would be nursing a 34-26 lead entering the fourth quarter courtesy of a Clifton 28-yard touchdown run.