Friday, October 25, 2013

ECCC Warriors Fall 49-7 to Nationally Ranked Gulf Coast in Season Finale

A salute to military veterans and recognition of sophomore football players highlighted the season finale for East Central Community College’s Warriors who were once again victims of a national power.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College proved worthy of its No. 5 ranking as the Bulldogs cruised to a 42-0 halftime advantage and completed the onslaught with a 49-7 MACJC South Division victory Thursday, Oct. 24 at Bailey Stadium in Decatur.

Gulf Coast, which improved to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in division play, finished second to division winner Jones County Junior College and will face North Division winner East Mississippi Community College in first-round action of the MACJC State Playoffs scheduledSaturday, November 2. Jones County and North Division runner-up Itawamba Community College will meet in the other semi-final contest.

The Warriors finished 1-8 overall and 0-6 in league competition under first-year head coach Ken Karcher.

Pre-game activities featured a tribute to military veterans - who were recognized as honorary team captains - and included a presentation of the game ball by U.S. Marine Corps First Sergeant (Retired) I.E. “Sarge” Wilkinson of Forest. Wilkinson, a 30-year veteran and recipient of numerous honors for his service in World War II and the Korean Conflict, was accompanied by his great-great niece-in-law, sophomore cheerleader Payton Smith, also of Forest, as he presented the game football to ECCC President Dr. Billy W. Stewart. Wilkinson will observe his 90th birthday in November.

Sophomore football players also received special recognition and were accompanied by family members or special guests during the pre-game ceremony. Honorees and their respective hometowns included Chris Apperwhite, James Clark and Zachary Thigpen, all of Laurel; Blake Bateaste, D’Iberville; Donnie Farmer, Saucier; Austin Franklin, Petal; Layton Holcomb, Hattiesburg; Martin Johnson, Nanih Waiya; Hakeem Parker, New Orleans; Jeremy Pyles, Oxford, Ala.; Kyron Samuels, Fairhope, Ala.; and Wesley Smith, Lena. Coach Karcher presented flowers to the mother of each player in attendance.

It did not take long for the high-powered Gulf Coast offense to find the end zone as running back Antwon Wells of Hurley crossed the goal line from one-yard out with 11:01 left in the first period. Tristan Reynolds connected on the first of his seven PATs on the night.

Justin Brister extended the Bulldog lead to 14-0 when the running back from D’Iberville tallied on a five-yard rushing play with 5:05 left in the initial period.

The Bulldogs added 28 points in the second quarter, beginning with defensive back Justin Evans’ 36-yard interception return for a score with 13:15 left before halftime. The turnover was one of six Warrior miscues during the division battle.

Former ECCC quarterback Colton Kane of Navarre, Fla., stretched the lead to 28-0 following his 33-yard TD toss to wide receiver Jermey Cutrer of Kentwood, La., with 9:30 left in the stanza.

Back-up quarterback Terrian Page of Taylorsville connected with wide receiver Dhaquille Williams of Laplace, La., on a four-yard scoring pass play for a 35-0 advantage with 6:09 left before the break.

Running back T.J. McCann of Leakesville completed first-half scoring with his 20-yard scamper to pay dirt with 3:05 left.

McCann tallied again for the Bulldogs on his two-yard run in the final seconds of third-quarter action.

The Warriors got on the scoreboard following speedster Lamarcus Franks’ 31-yard sprint to the end zone with 9:41 remaining in the final stanza. Austin Franklin of Petal added the PAT.

Franks, a freshman running back from Greene County High School, led EC rushers with 72 yards on 13 carries.

Sophomore running back Martin Johnson of Nanih Waiya contributed 44 yards on 11 carries.

Donnie Farmer and freshman Anthony Triplett of Philadelphia shared quarterback duties and combined for two completions on nine attempts for 18 yards.