Another week equals another win for Coach Chuckie Allen and the Mendenhall Tigers.
Before the game began a Homecoming ceremony was held and Hazel Jones was crowned as the 2017 Homecoming Queen for Mendenhall High School. The Tigers took the field shortly after to face the Northeast Lauderdale Trojans.
It didn’t take long for the Tigers’ high powered offense to score. Following a big return by Tavaris Grace on the opening kickoff, Christian Allen threw a touchdown pass to Zykiel Woodard. On the opening defensive stand for the Tigers they allowed one first down before forcing a three and out. The Trojans were denied any running room through the middle of the field. Defensive tackles Jarious Newsome and Brian Hollins did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage. Allen led the offense back onto the field only to give up an interception that was returned for a touchdown. The Trojans missed the extra point. Allen led the offense back onto the field after the interception. They had success early but the drive ended in Trojan territory with no points.
A change in strategy for the Trojans led to success against the Tigers defense. Read option plays allowed them to march down the field to the goal line. With their backs against the wall the Tiger defense were able to make two big stops. Some luck was needed for the Tigers on third down. The Trojan quarterback had a receiver open in the end zone but threw the ball into the ground to bring up fourth down. A successful field goal attempt gave the Trojans a temporary lead.
The second quarter would belong to the Tigers. A big kickoff return by Jordan Willis moved the ball inside the red zone. Inside the Trojans’ 10 yard line, the Tigers were in danger of turning the ball over. On fourth and goal Christian Allen dropped back to pass. His receivers were well covered so Allen scrambled out of the pocket and gained 8 yards for a touchdown. The extra point attempt was good by Josh Freels.
Trojans took over near their 20 yard line following the kickoff. Tavaris Grace blitzed from his linebacker position and sacked the quarterback. The sack appeared to cause a fumble which was scooped up and returned for a touchdown by Jarious Newsome. The whistle was never blown to stop play. After three separate conferences, and two opposing rulings between the referees the Trojans ultimately retained the ball. They ran two plays that went for negative yards and were forced to punt. The punt didn’t travel far, and the Tigers took over on the 30 yard line. What appeared to be a busted play on first down went for big yards after Allen bought time with his feet and completed a pass to Dee Newsome. Allen finished the drive with a touchdown run from 2 yards out. Freels booted in the extra point. The first play of the Trojan offensive drive resulted in a pick six for Zadarious “Motown” Duckworth. It was the final touchdown of the first half, and the Tigers led 28-9.
The Tigers’ first play of the second half was a sack by Brian Hollins, but it would not be enough to set the tone. The third quarter did not go as planned, but it was mostly due to costly mistakes made by the Tigers. A fumble by Junkevious Mack was returned to the Tiger 5 yard line. It took the Trojans one play to punch it in for a touchdown. Extra point attempt was no good. Following the touchdown the Trojans caught the Tigers off guard and converted an onside kick. This brought the defense back onto the field for three consecutive series. The Trojan began attacking the interior of the Tiger defense and was having success. The Trojan quarterback scored on a run up the middle. The two point conversion attempt was no good. What was headed towards a blowout in the first half was now a one touchdown game, 28-23. With the Tigers clinging to a slim lead Jordan Willis took over the game. After the kickoff he had four rushes that collectively covered 48 yards to include a touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, the Tigers returned to dominance. Zykiel Woodard caught his second touchdown pass of the night, and Motown Duckworth rushed for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Defensively the Tigers continued their fourth quarter shutout streak which has spanned 6 games. The final score was 48-23.
Head Coach Chuckie Allen said after the game, “They hit us in the mouth early, and we had back to back turnovers in the third quarter. We have to be ready to play from the door, but we did a great job.”
Defensive coordinator Jeff Crosby said, “We have to work on the first drive of the game and playing better in the third quarter. We have to start on fire and we are going to keep shutting them out in the fourth quarter.”
The Tigers will travel to face the West Lauderdale Knights next week, whom they have yet to beat since being in this district. One game was close and another had a controversial finish. Allen said, “We are going to prepare to win and work hard.” This could very well be the game that decides the district championship.