Munday’s L.J. Collier Dominates Defensively in 42-14 State Championship Win Over Tenaha
ARLINGTON -- Munday quarterback Dee Paul had all the headlines entering Thursday's Class A Division II state championship against Tenaha, but a Mogul defensive player had an equally important impact.
Junior L.J. Collier complemented Paul's 263-yard, three-touchdown rushing performance, dominating off the edge and taking advantage of Munday's approach of moving him around to best exploit his abilities. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end earned Defensive Most Valuable Player honors with six tackles, three for loss, one sack, a forced fumble, a game-changing interception for a touchdown.
Collier lined up on both ends and often created problems for Tenaha's rollout passing attempts. His long wing span helped him bat down a pass that appeared destined for a good gain on a screen play in the left flat one down before his 35-yard, tipped-to-himself interception return for a touchdown that gave Munday a 28-14 lead with 4:42 left in the game.
He switched sides to the left side of the defense on that play to jump into the passing lane on another screen attempt.
"They did a great job moving him around. We kinda knew early on they were gonna put him on certain sides," said Tenaha coach Terry Ward. "In the second half they did a great job with defensive adjustments. They moved him around and our kids just couldn't handle it. We battled and played hard, but that joker's good. He was gonna get blocked every play, and he still made good plays.
"We've run that (screen) play all year and that has not been the result. But they're in the state championship because they're pretty good, and that kid's pretty good."
Collier and Munday's defense held Tenaha to 221 total yards, limiting the Tigers to 3.15 yards per carry and 8-for-20 passing, including two interceptions, for 98 yards.
Tenaha successfully hit a few short passes that led to quality yards-after-catch gains, specifically by sophomore D'Andre Thomas, who caught six passes for 72 yards, including an impressive 12-yard jump-ball touchdown catch over a Munday defensive back that tied the game 14-14 with 45 seconds left in the first half.
But Munday's pressure -- sometimes created by its base 5-down formation and sometimes produced by four-down, one-deep passing down schemes -- forced Tenaha into too many bad situations when it tried to throw intermediate and deep routes. Munday's defense had three sacks -- one apiece from Collier, defensive tackle Xzavier Bulliner, and defensive end Jarrett Masias.
"There were some protection issues that we had to worry about. We had some mismatches and we still threw some, (but) we just missed them," Ward said. "They were a little overthrown or a little underthrown. We kinda felt going into the game we thought we could take advantage. We hit a couple, but protection definitely was an issue with the big kid (Collier) coming off the edge trying to block him. We missed him a couple of times."