Munford's offense struggled mightily in its first two games of the season. 

Watching the Cougars race up and down the field Friday night against Craigmont, that seemed like ancient history. 

Munford (2-1) scored touchdowns on its first eight possessions of the game, and added in a safety for good measure, en route to dominating the visitors from Memphis, 71-8, in a non-region game. 

"It definitely feels good after the last two weeks, seeing our productivity go up and just cleaning up our game," said Munford head coach Nick Markle. 

So what changed from the previous two games?

"The linemen stepped up," said quarterback Jaxon O'Neal, who scored on four of his five carries on the way to 116 rushing yards. "We made a couple of changes during practice and everybody really executed."

Auvic White, who rushed for 105 and a touchdown on seven carries, pointed to hard work and a higher power for the offensive explosion. 

"Just coming out in practice and realizing we can't go out there and play like that every game," said White. "Just being close to God, keep praying and maintaining my prayers."

Whatever the reason, it was crystal clear from the start Munford was going to win this one handily. 

O'Neal capped off a seven-play drive on Munford's opening possession with a 12-yard touchdown run. The rest of Munford's scoring drives were much shorter. 

Carson Roberson recovered the ensuing onside kick and White scored one play later from 49 yards out to push the lead to 14-0. 

Craigmont (1-2) running back Michael Cashaw interrupted the party for a moment when he broke free for a 79-yard touchdown run with 8:17 left in the first quarter, but the Chiefs' defense had no answer for Munford's rushing attack. 

O'Neal scored on a 33-yard run to finish off a three-play drive and Roberson sacked Dedran Shotwell in the end zone moments later to give Munford a 23-8 lead. 

After Kelton Mason returned the following free kick 50 yards, Lemerious Payne scored from the 24 on the next play from scrimmage. 

With 2:13 still left in the first quarter, Treveon Hawkins ran it in from 63 yards out to push the lead to 37-8. O'Neal scored his third touchdown early in the second quarter with a 57-yard run and, via the mercy rule, the clock started running with Munford leading 44-8. 

A 14-yard touchdown run by Hawkins (three carries, 99 yards) and a five-yard TD run from O'Neal made the halftime lead 57-8. 

Backup quarterback Ben Cerniglia scored on runs of two and 26 yards in the second half as Munford's second- and third-stringers saw plenty of action. 

White, O'Neal and Hawkins combined to average 21.3 yards per carry and score seven touchdowns. 

The mood was very festive during and after the game, but Markle said he warned his players about being overconfident after routing an inferior team.

"They were big up front, but they didn't move," Markle said. "I'm scared maybe of a little false hope. That's what I told them. We have region play starting with Southwind next week and everybody's got to be on point and ready to go."

"We're just going to keep doing what we've been doing," White said when asked asked about better competition coming up on the schedule. "Keep coming to practice each and every day and putting in the hard work."

The next fives games on Munford's schedule are all against Region 8-5A opponents. Munford's postseason fate will be determined during that stretch. 

"Our season really starts this upcoming Friday," Markle said. "The big boys are coming to the table now. Like I just told them, who's going to be the odd man out? It's always a five-team race for four spots."

Jeff Ireland is The Leader's sports editor. To contact him, call 901-476-7116 or email jireland@covingtonleader.com.​

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