True grit: Defense, crowd noise rattle, don’t stop visiting Munford

Published 12:57 am Saturday, November 14, 2015



The Straughn Tigers (5-6) fell to the (9-3) Munford Lions 25-15 Friday in front of a rowdy home crowd, despite a rally late in the game. Munford quarterback Avery Harris led the charge for his team while Straughn was led by a gritty performance, especially in the second half, by its defense.

The roar from Straughn’s deafening crowd seemed to rattle Harris and the Lions early in the game, but then on Munford’s second drive Harris led the Lions on a 93-yard scoring drive. Harris threw a 33-yard pass early in the drive with the Lions backed up inside their own 10 and then threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to receiver Austin Campbell. Campbell had two catches for 52 yards and a TD.


After a Straughn punt, Munford receiver QT Elston fumbled and Straughn recovered inside the red zone. The Tigers couldn’t manage to punch the ball in the end zone and kicker CJ Philpott missed a short field goal attempt. The ball came up short of the goal line on the kick and Munford’s Austin Stephens returned it 40 yards with less than two minutes left in the half.

Receiver Tranas Patterson made a leaping grab inside the five-yard line and then Harris threw his second touchdown, this time to receiver Tanner Reeves with less than 25 seconds remaining in the half. A missed extra point meant Munford led 13-0.

Straughn’s Jacob Hawkings electrified the home crowd on the ensuing kickoff, dashing through the Munford coverage team 61-yards to the Munford 24-yard line with 2.7 seconds left in the half, but the Tigers were unable yet again to convert the big play into any points. Munford led 13-0 at the half.

After a Straughn three-and-out Harris led his Lions on a 65-yard scoring drive. Harris capped off the drive throwing a 20-yard TD pass to Reeves on a fourth down play. The Lions failed on a two-point conversion attempt and led 19-0.

Avery finished the game completing 11-of-22 passes for 197 yards and three TDs along with 75 yards on 14 carries on the ground. Reeves finished with 3 catches for 44 yards and 2 TDs. Munford completely shut the Tigers’ running game down in the first half, but Straughn running back Javaris Samuel finally started to find some running room late in the third quarter, leading the Tigers down to the Munford three-yard line as the third quarter came to a close.

Straughn quarterback Barrett Bush cashed in for a 3-yard touchdown run to open the fourth quarter, and a good two-point conversion cut the Munford lead to 19-8.

Bush completed 15-of-22 passes for 137 yards and 39 rushing yards with 1 TD on the night.

Munford running back Charles Smith gashed the Straughn defense for 50-yards on the next drive, bringing the ball inside the 5-yard line, but the Tigers stiffened up and forced the Lions to kick a field goal to extend Munford’s lead to 22-8.

Straughn receiver Allan George fumbled on the Tigers’ next possession, but again the defense held strong and forced Munford to punt. The snap on the punt went over the punter’s head, and Straughn took over at the Munford 17 with new life in the game

Samuel followed up with a 17-yard TD run on the very next play as the Straughn crowd came to a fever pitch. The Tigers cut the lead to 22-15 after a good PAT. Samuel would finish the game with 19 carries for 44 yards and a TD.

The Straughn defense held strong again after a personal foul on Munford and forced another punt with a chance to tie the game, but the punt returner bobbled the punt leading to a controversial call from the officials.

It seemed as if a Straughn player had fallen on the football and an official signaled that it was indeed Straughn’s ball, but a second official, much farther down the field, overruled the decision, making it Munford’s ball inside the Straughn 10-yard line.

Despite the defense’s back being once again against the wall, the Tigers forced another field goal attempt, needing a miss or blocked kick to stay in the game. Munford kicker Seth Thomas converted the field goal and sealed the win for the Lions 25-15 as a last gasp throw from Bush was intercepted as time ran out.

Munford racked up 347 total yards in the game, most of it coming in the first half, while the Tigers managed 227 total yards. The Munford defensive line held Straughn’s running game in check to the tune of just 90-yards rushing.

One of the biggest factors in the game, according to Straughn head coach Chris Wilson, was turnovers.

“We had a couple of big turnovers, in big areas, and Munford’s a good football team. You can’t keep giving them chances to score,” he said of the mistakes the Tigers made.

Despite the mistakes Wilson was extremely proud of the effort his team showed in not giving up in the game. “We played our guts out and I think I was very, very happy with the effort and fight we had in the game,” Wison said.

Stats courtesy of Zack Maio.