It was just a good old-fashioned war out on the football field Friday night at Munford, where the number 4-ranked 5A power Central-Clay Volunteers fought off the 13th ranked 4A Munford Lions 10-7. Before the season, Lions head coach Will Wagnon said, “We are at a point now where we schedule games to help us in the long run so that we will be ready to play championship football in the playoffs.” And this was one of those games.

The Lions got down 10-0 early, then fought their guts out the rest of the way and almost pulled it out in the last 6 minutes of the game. They would hold the Vols to only eight plays over seven yards on the night.

The vaunted Vols’ wishbone got things going on their first drive, when Jaylon Miles, a 2,100-yard rusher a year ago, had some nice runs and JoJo Staples broke loose on a 44-yard run to the Lions 8-yard line. Wagnon called timeout and regrouped the defense, and they slammed the door on the Vols and forced them into a 25-yard field goal by Rodney Sandlin. Central-Clay led 3-0 with 8:16 to go in the first quarter.

 Disaster struck two plays later, when Lions quarterback Brett Haynie fumbled on his own 29-yard line and the Vols recovered. A third-down pass interference kept the Volunteers’ drive alive, and two plays later Malik Dark went around right end for a 13-yard touchdown run. After the Sandlin extra point, Munford was down 10-0. The situation looked bleak with 6:05 to go in the first quarter.

The Lions defense would play like champions on this night, and would virtually shut the Vols down the rest of the night and give the young offense time to grow up a bit against a champion defense.

Quarterback Haynie fired a 35-yard pass to C.J. Chapman and the Lions roared back down the field to the Central-Clay 9-yard line. The Lions were unable to convert, and Seth Thomas missed a 27-yard field goal from a bad angle.

The Lions’ defense forced Clay into a three-and-out and drove the ball right back down the field on a couple of passes to Chapman and  Q.T.Elston. The drive stalled at the 19-yard line and the Lions failed on a fourth-down try.

Another Lion drive ended on the Vols’ 36-yard line before the half as it ended with the Vols still leading 10-0.

Midway through third quarter, Haynie lost another fumble and the Vols were at the Lion 35-yard line. A fired-up defense stuffed the Vols and forced a punt.

Late in the third quarter, Miles broke runs and the Vols were deep in Munford territory trying to break the game open. Once again the defense answered the call, when Khason Lackey had a huge stop on Miles, and Austin Campbell and Devin Stricklin broke up a fourth-down Vols pass.

In the fourth quarter, Munford’s offense began to click when they put together a 14-play, 89-yard drive for a touchdown when Haynie hit Chapman on a 6-yard touchdown pass. Thomas kicked the PAT and the lead was 10-7. The brilliant drive included two fourth-down conversions and some hard running from Calvin “Rocky” Smith. Smith ignited the drive with his determination. The score came with only 4:21 left in the game as the drive used up over 7 minutes on the clock.

The Lions kicked off and had to shut the Vols down, and they did on two straight plays. On third down, Lackey stepped in front of Vol pass for an interception, but had it hit his hands and slid out at the Clay 25-yard line.

The Lions got it back, but a Chapman fumble turned it back over to the Vols and they ran the clock out for a hard-fought 10-7 win.

Haynie rushed 11 times for 37 yards and was 14-26 through the air for 130 yards and one touchdown. His confidence grew throughout the game as it was the senior’s first start. Smith had 17 yards on 5 carries. Chapman had 9 catches for 79 yards.

Miles led Central-Clay with 124 yards on 16 carries.

The Lions had 237 total yards in the game and Central-Clay had 241 yards and ran 61 plays to the Vols’ 53 plays.

Austin Stephens led Munford’s defense with 13 tackles. Takeo Hall and Khason Lacey had seven tackles apiece. Austin Campbell had four, and Greg Lawrence had four tackles and a fumble recovery. Jonathon Best also had a fumble recovery.

Munford will host Cleburne County next week, while Central Clay will host 6A Benjamin Russell.

                       Munford     Clay Central

First Downs     13                  10

Rushing         35-107           46-232

Passing               130                     9

Total Yds            237                   241

Completes        14-26              1-9

Fumbles-Lost     3-3                 2-2

Penalty Yards           10                   75