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Choctaw rally falls short against Munford

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dyer County's Matthew Pease (22) breaks free on a 52-yard run during Friday's 28-21 loss to Munford.
In the midst of a two-game skid, Dyer County traveled to face Munford Friday night looking to get back on track with a district win over the Cougars.

Unfortunately for the Choctaws, despite a stellar second-half effort, the losing streak increased to three games as Munford held off a furious DC rally to win the contest 28-21.

"We're going through growing pains right now, that's about all I can say about it," said DC head coach Barry Kendall. "We didn't get the result we wanted, but the kids showed a lot of character in the second half and gave tremendous effort when it would have been easy to hang their heads."

The Choctaws, held far below their average offensively in the first half, limped into halftime trailing 14-0. The squad totaled a mere 90 yards of offense during the initial two quarters with just three yards rushing while quarterback Tucker Cozort was 12-of-21 for 87 yards and one interception.

Despite the two-touchdown deficit, Kendall and staff remained optimistic during the break, urging the squad to rise to the challenge.

"We told the guys that the defense had played well enough to keep us in the game, but the offense needed to step up and start executing if we were going to get back in the game," he said.

Cozort and the other members of the Choctaw offense were listening, but scores weren't going to come easily.

After receiving the second-half kickoff, DC began a drive at its own 20-yard line. A hookup between Cozort and teammate Matthew Pease got the Choctaws to the Munford 38-yard line and on the move. Unfortunately, a Cougar interception one play later near the goal line took the air from the balloon.

A defensive stand by DC however gave the ball back to the offense at the Munford 13-yard line after a terrible Cougar punt from the 4-yard line.

This time, DC didn't flinch. Ky Wilson surged ahead to the 1-yard line before Cozort ran up the middle to get the Choctaws on the board. Colin Dietrich's PAT split the uprights with 8:26 left in the quarter to make it 14-7.

Another DC defensive stand forced another Cougar punt minutes later and DC took over at its own 41-yard line. One play later, Cozort connected with Austin Richardson down to the Cougar 1-yard line. Just as he had done minutes earlier, Cozort followed the offensive line on a sneak up the middle for the touchdown. Dietrich's PAT knotted the game at 14-14 with 5:23 left in the quarter.

Bent but not broken, Munford went back to what worked in the first half on its ensuing possession. A strong dose of talented running back Demarious Exum, the right arm of Cougar quarterback Hunter Hardin, and receiving ability of Antonio Moore resulted in a Munford touchdown with just over a minute left in the third.

The Choctaws bounced back early in the fourth with their third touchdown of the half. Cozort spotted Richardson open with 11 minutes to play and the senior did the rest, escaping would-be tacklers on his way to pay dirt on a 20-yard scamper.

Unfortunately for DC, the score would be the last. Munford added the game-winner with 39 ticks left on the clock when Exum sprinted 14 yards to the end zone.

The Choctaws had a final chance to knot the contest but Cozort's pass attempt fell incomplete as DC dropped to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in district play with the 28-21 loss.

Cozort ended the game competing 26-of-40 passes for 307 yards and scored two touchdowns while tossing another.

The Choctaws were penalized nine times for 85 yards and had 18 first downs compared to 21 for the Cougars.

"Munford did what they had to do to win the game, but I thought we improved tonight and we'll continue to improve and get ready to go again next week," added Kendall.

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