No. 1 Co-Lin holds off homestanding East Central in classic

From combined reports

A furious second half comeback by the East Central Community College Warriors fell short as the No. 1 ranked Copiah-Lincoln Wolfpack escaped Bailey Stadium on the Decatur campus last Thursday with a hard-fought 31-28 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges South Division victory.

The Wolfpack defense came up with a game-saving play with just over 2 minutes to play in the fourth quarter to preserve the win. East Central drove the ball down to the Co-Lin 22 yard line, when Warrior quarterback Jesse Hosket hit receiver Devin McIntosh across the middle of the field, but the Wolfpack defense stripped the ball recovered the ball at the 13-yard line ending the East Central drive. Co-Lin ran out the clock to secure the victory.

Co-Lin's Paxton Sims (66), a former Choctaw County High School standout, takes care of business locking against East Central on Thursday.

Co-Lin’s Paxton Sims (66), a former Choctaw County High School standout, takes care of business locking against East Central on Thursday.

The Wolfpack (5-0, 2-0) will celebrate homecoming against the Pearl River Wildcats on Saturday, Oct. 3. Kick off is at 2:30 p.m. Watch live at www.colinatetics.com or listen on WMJU 104.3 FM in Brookhaven.

East Central fell to 3-2 overall on the season. The Warriors are now 0-2 in MACJC South Division play. Copiah-Lincoln improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the South Division.

East Central will host the Hinds Community College Eagles in another South Division contest next Thursday, Oct. 1. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. in Bailey Stadium on the Decatur campus.

CCHS graduate Tre Brown (40) applies pressure against East Central in the Wolfpack's 31-28 win.

CCHS graduate Tre Brown (40) applies pressure against East Central in the Wolfpack’s 31-28 win.

The game can be heard on WKOZ 98.3 “The Groove” or via audio stream at www.eccc.edu. Live streaming video with audio can be found at www.eccc.edu or www.kicks967.com

The Wolfpack took the opening drive down deep into East Central territory and took a 3-0 lead on a Greg Nickles 26-yard field goal at the 7:09 mark. Co-Lin running back Lakedric Lee plunged 2-yards into the end zone with 31 seconds left in the quarter. Nickles’ was good on the PAT giving the Wolfpack a 10-0 lead.

The Warriors drove the ball down to the Wolfpack 25 yard line, but East Central running back Tredarian Gamble fumbled and Co-Lin’s Lashard Durr scooped it up and romped 75 yards to pay dirt. Nickles’ PAT was good and the Wolfpack took a 17-0 lead with 12:38 remaining in the second quarter.

Former French Camp standout Jesse Hosket (8) calls the signals for East Central against Co-Lin.

Former French Camp standout Jesse Hosket (8) calls the signals for East Central against Co-Lin.

On the ensuing Co-Lin kickoff, East Central quickly moved down the field for its first score of the night. The Warriors drove 77 yards in just five plays with Gamble, a product of Oxford High School (Ala.), scoring from the two. The extra point by freshman kicker Aaron Garrett of Meridian High School closed the gap to 17-7.

The Warriors immediately went back on offense at their own 49-yard line after a successful onside kick. Seven plays later, Gamble was in the end zone again, this time from six yards out. Garrett’s point after was good, and East Central had pulled to within 17-14 with eight minutes remaining in the first half. The key play of the drive was a 45-yard strike from Hosket of French Camp High School to freshman tight end of Kalen Meggs of Richland that put the ball on the Wolfpack 10-yard line.

But Lee would add his second touchdown of the game at 3:23 left in the half, a 4-yard scamper to give the Wolfpack some breathing room at 24-14.

he Warriors took the opening kick off of the second half and drove 68 yards in 10 plays, with Gamble bulling over from the four. Garrett’s kick was true and the Co-Lin lead was cut to 24-21.

East Central was poised to get ball right back with a chance to take the lead, but a mishandled punt was recovered by Co-Lin at the Warrior 37. Just four plays later, the Wolfpack was in the end zone again, this time on a 19-yard pass from freshman quarterback Garrett Kruzcek to sophomore wide receiver Dayall Harris. After the PAT, Co-Lin led 31-21.

Just minutes later, Co-Lin would return the favor, mishandling an East Central punt with the Warriors recovering at the Wolfpack 20-yard line. A Garrett 32-yard field goal attempt was wide right, and the score remained 31-21, still in the third quarter.

Warrior kicker Aaron Garrett missed a 32-yard field goal that would have cut the deficit to seven late in the third quarter.

The Warriors drove to the Co-Lin 22 early in the fourth quarter, but turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert a fourth and one.

The East Central defense stiffened on the next Wolfpack possession and forced a Co-Lin punt. Three plays later, Hosket hit a wide open Jordan Thomas on a 60-yard scoring toss. The sophomore tight end out of Sumrall High School caught the ball at about the 15, shook off a Co-Lin defender and found the end zone. Garrett’s kick pulled East Central to within 31-28.

Co-Lin’s Kruzcek had a very good night completing 25-of-28 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown. Lee had 85 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. Jacen Murphy would lead the Co-Lin receivers four catches for 48 yards.

“Our kids just kept believing,” said ECCC head coach Ken Karcher. “We told them all week long it was going to be a fourth-quarter game. I thought it would go into overtime, actually, and we were real close to that happening.”

East Central finished with 435 yards total offense, while Co-Lin managed just 309. Hosket was 13 of 20 passing for 253 yards. Thomas had two catches for 85 yards and the touchdown. McIntosh had five receptions for 64 yards. On the ground, Gamble had 137 yards rushing on 23 carries and three touchdowns.

Photos by Mike Robertson