Junior running back Jaylon Lyles rushed for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns Friday, leading Class 4A No. 4 Clay Central past No. 7 Munford 30-14 in a showdown of undefeated teams.
Lyles ran 13 times for 122 yards, including a 38-yard scoring run for the Volunteers’ first points, in the opening half as Clay Central took a 17-7 lead into the dressing room. In the second half, he added 62 yards and a 1-yard touchdown on 12 carries, giving notice that he deverves to be considered for the Alabama Sports Writers Associaton’s 4A back of the year award along with Munford senior quarterback Monteo Garrett.
The Volunteers began the game with Lyles taking direct snaps then shifted him to halfback in their wishbone formation. He gained yardage in each look and said changing positions didn’t bother him.
“I go wherever the coaches want me to go,” he said.
On defense, the Volunteers limited Munford to 106 yards on the ground, while Clay Central rushed for 303 yards. In the second half, until their final scoring drive, Munford had more punts (three) than first downs (two). By that time, Clay Central held a commanding 30-7 lead with four minutes to play.
Clay Central head caoch Kris Herron said the Volunteers have three or four looks on defense and try to be certain they can contain an opponent’s best plays from those looks.
“It’s a credit to the players. It’s not complicated but it’s their effort,” Herron said. “They believe in it. They know what they’re doing. I think that helps them be more aggressive and play better technique and execute it better.”
Clay Central looked vulnerable to Garrett’s passing in the first half when he was 4-for-4 for 84 yards, including completions of 41 and 36 yards. In the second half, Garrett was 0-for-5. He netted 43 yards rushing on 13 carries. A 16-yard pickup on the Lions’ first possession of the second half was his longest run of the night. The Vols sacked Garrett four times for losses totaling 23 yards. The final sack, a loss of four, came at the hands of linebacker Ryan James and forced Munford to punt with nine minutes to play and down 24-7.
“That’s the defense we play every week,” James, a 151-pound junior, said.
DeAndre Wills was credited with two sacks and Devin Denny had one.
The Lions drew first blood. An interception by safety Tavon Lawson set up Munford’s second possesson at the Munford 40-yard line. On first down, Garrett threw long to James Jenkins for a 41-yard gain. Four plays later, Garrett scored from four yards out on a keeper at left tackle and Brian Strickland’s kick made it 7-0 at 8:06 of the first quarter. Just three seconds remained when the Lions added their final score.
Lyles got Clay Central even with a 38-yard run at 2:41 of the first. He took a direct snap, ducked into the middle of the line then cut left as he emerged from the pack. Isaac Andrews’ boot made it 7-all. Anderw hit four consecutive extra points before missing on his fifth try.
In the second quarter, the Volunteers moved 55 yards in seven plays to take the lead for good. Deidric Rutledge started the drive with a 21-yard carry and quarterback Anthony Wood finished it on a sneak from inches away at 9:59 of the second.
Andrews made it a two-score game on the final play of the first half. His 36-yard field goal would have ben good from 10 yards farther back and was his longest under game conditions.
“I knew as soon as I kicked it,” he said.
Herron called the kick “huge.”
Neither team scored in the third quarter as Wills’ punts forced Munford to start at the Munford 4 and the Munford 8. Clay Central got the ball at the Munford 34 just before the quarter ended and Lyles capped a six-play push with a 1-yard run to make it 24-7 with 10:52 to play.
After the sack by James, Clay Central drove 97 yards in eight plays for the touchdown that sealed the win. Wood gained 39 yards on a bootleg to get the Vols away from their own goal line. Lyles gained 15 yards and another first down then on fourth-and-5 from the Munford 31, Wood rolled right and threw to Wills downfield. Munford defender Jay Scales tipped the ball but Wills was able to grab the deflection then turn and score with 4:03 to play.
“I had to push my way back toward the ball,” Wills said. “As I did, I kept my concentration and I came down with the pass.”
Munford’s final score came on a 14-yard pass from Lawson, who relieved Garrett at quarterabck late, to C.J. Chapman in the end zone. Chapman was able to keep one foot in bounds as he came down with the ball.
Now 5-0, Clay Central returns to 4A, Region 3 play Friday at Childersburg. Munford (4-1) meets Region 5 foe Alexandria on the road Friday.