By Sarah Moomaw / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
It was a battle, but the East Central Community College football team earned its first win in 2013 and under first-year head coach Ken Karcher thanks to a late big play on Saturday afternoon.
A diving, finger-tips catch by Warrior Jimmy Cockrell with 46 seconds on the clock regained the lead, 36-31, and the Warriors held for the final score a minute and seven seconds after Mississippi Delta Community College had marched back from a two-touchdown deficit.
“I'm happy for the kids, it's been a long, emotionally time for them,” Karcher said. “It's been hard, but they kept fighting. Finally, today we played an evenly match team. The game could have gone either way and our kids make a big play at the end.”
Mississippi Delta gained its second lead of the game with 1:53 left on the clock on a passing touchdown by Lane Williams to Kamron Carter for 23 yards. The two-point conversion gave the Trojans a one-point lead to put the Warriors back on offense with time to retaliate.
Lamarcus Franks opened the drive with a 22-yard run across mid-field. On the second play he was tackled for a two-yard loss and the Warriors switch gears to rely on Donnie Farmer's arm. After two incomplete passes from the Trojan 37, Cockrell sprinted down field, leaned, launched and reeled in the pass as he landed in the end zone, holding onto the ball to take back what belonged to the Warriors – the game.
“It's a big win for us,” Cockrell said. “I'm just glad I could contribute … we had to make a comeback. It was our Homecoming, you can't lose it. Just had to make a big play.”
The Warriors were led to victory by four different scorers on Homecoming. Franks led the Warriors on the ground, rushing for 236 yards. Farmer finished the game 10-of-24 for 76 yards and three touchdowns.
East Central opened the game with a quick four-play scoring drive for a 6-0 lead. Three plays later Chris Thornton intercepted a Williams pass on the Trojan 22 to earn the ball back. Another five plays down and ECCC pushed its lead to 14-0 with Cockrell's first receiving touchdown of the day for 18 yards.
Passarrio Collins put the Trojans on the board with a 41-yard catch from Williams to cut the lead to 14-6 with 5:33 left in the first. Less than a minute into the second quarter, the Trojans struck again in the air. Williams found Carlton Archer deep on the left side of the end zone to pull within one, 14-13.
As halftime approached, both sides looked for breathing room. Mississippi Delta found it on a 27-yard field goal off the foot of Zacarion Goodman to go up 16-14.
“The thing I think helped us in the game was our kids haven't quit all year, even when we were getting blown out, so they kept fighting in a game like this and we happen to make the play when he needed to make it,” Karcher said.
The Warriors jumped out to a two-score lead seven seconds into the fourth quarter. Franks capped an 82-yard drive with a 16-yard run to make it 30-16 with 14:53 left in regulation.
The Trojans closed the gap to one-score on an 11-yard passing touchdown from Williams to Carter with 9:11 to play. The duo connected again roughly seven minutes later to steal the lead, 31-30,.
East Central (1-6, 0-4) will travel to Pearl River Community College on Saturday, Oct. 19.