By Brant Locklier, East Alabama Sports Today
CENTRE – For the last couple years, Friday night’s Cherokee County-Munford game made for a pretty good region matchup. Since the latest wave of realignment split them apart, the only time the teams can meet now is in the state championship game.
Or Friday night.
The teams got into an old-fashioned shootout Friday night, but a big third quarter by the Warriors opened up the game and enabled them to take a 56-26 win before a packed house in Centre.
The young Lions are getting better each week, but a few key mistakes cost them dearly.
Cherokee County (5-1) had no answer for Lions quarterback Sylvester Smith, as he rambled for 272 yards rushing, scored three touchdowns and threw for another. The same could be said for Munford against the Warriors’ Jacob Cornejo, who had four touchdown runs and returned an interception for another score.
Smith, a Tennessee commitment, led Munford (3-2) down the field on its opening drive and fired a 4-yard touchdown pass to Mason Brewer for a 7-0 lead. Smith had a 51-yard burst during this drive.
The Warriors quickly tied it 7-7, but Smith led the Lions back down for a score. His 32-yard run got the touchdown and put Munford back ahead 14-7. Once again Cherokee County answered to tie the game at 14 as the first quarter ended.
Munford took its third possession inside the 10, but penalties pushed the Lions back and they turned the ball over on downs. Field goal kicker Dakota Frank was at a major cross country meet and unavailable to take a shot at a field goal attempt.
Right before the half, Cherokee County took its third possession down the field and got a touchdown on a 10-yard scamper by Jacob Cornejo for a 21-14 halftime lead.
The Warriors scored first in the second half and scored again after an interception set up a short field situation and the lead was 35-14. Smith brought the Lions back for a 37-yard touchdown and the lead was 35-20.
Another turnover and a Warrior drive expanded the lead to 49-20, but Smith was not done as he ripped off an 81-yard score in the fourth quarter to make it 49-26.
Late in the game Cornejo intercepted a Smith pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to end the scoring.
Cherokee County has an open date this coming Friday. Munford hosts Lincoln.