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ECCC Warriors Rally for Stunning 26-21 Homecoming Win
 October 1, 2012

“You have just moved a mountain,” East Central Community College head football coach Brian Anderson told his players after their stunning 26-21 homecoming victory over Hinds Community College Saturday afternoon at Bailey Stadium on the Decatur campus.

“We just caught a dream,” Anderson later commented in a post-game interview. “This team was not supposed to beat these guys, but our players didn’t know that…you couldn’t tell them that!”

Although the Warriors trailed 21-6 at halftime, Anderson said he was confident East Central would emerge the victor in the key MACJC South Division match-up played mostly during a light drizzle on the overcast day.

“I never thought about losing the game – it did not even cross my mind,” said the fourth-year head coach. “When the ‘sack’ happened (to clinch the victory) it was total jubilation, total relief…it was unreal!”

The “sack” to which Anderson referred came as Hinds faced fourth and nine on the EC 18 with 36 seconds remaining and the Warriors clinging to the five-point advantage. A host of Warrior defenders corralled Eagle quarterback Christopher Nelson for a 12-yard loss as he dropped back to pass.

The celebration soon began for the Warriors who improved to 2-3 overall and more importantly 2-1 in division play. The previously nationally- ranked Eagles dropped to 2-3 and 0-3.

The “sack” followed another impressive defensive stand for the Warriors highlighted by linebacker Cory Houck’s tackle of Eagle running back Darryan Ragsdale for a one-yard loss on fourth and one at the EC four-yard line. Houck had his finest day as a Warrior with 16 tackles, including three stops for minus yardage. The 6’, 220-pound freshman is a product of Union County (Fla.) High School.
EC’s defense “came alive” in the second half and shut down the Hinds offensive attack after allowing 21 points in the first two quarters. No doubt the Warriors were inspired by Martin Johnson’s 67-yard touchdown jaunt in early fourth quarter action, which gave EC the lead for good at 26-21.

Johnson, a freshman running back from Nanih Waiya High School, had only one other carry for three yards. He subbed for top rusher Keshun Shipp who was injured while breaking a tackle on a running play with 9:48 left before halftime. Shipp left the game with 13 carries for 76 yards, most of which came on EC’s first scoring drive. He spent the second half on the sidelines using a crutch and wearing a protective boot for his injured foot.

“It was a big blow to lose Shipp,” said Anderson of the 5-9, 215-pound sophomore from Olive Branch. “There again, we weren’t supposed to beat a team like this…we weren’t supposed to be able to do it without him, but we did!”

EC took an early lead in the division battle when quarterback Brock Hall tallied the first of his two scores on a four-year run with 6:14 left in the opening stanza.

Hall, who is also one of EC’s top receivers, shares quarterbacking duties with Zak Thrasher, a sophomore from New Hope, due to the loss of season starter Colton Kane who is recovering from a foot injury in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla., and has withdrawn from classes.

Austin Franklin’s PAT was not successful. Franklin is a freshman from Petal High School.

The impressive 96-yard, 14-play drive was highlighted by several long runs from Shipp who was credited with 44 yards on five carries.

Hinds responded with a score late in the period on Nelson’s 57-yard TD strike to wide receiver Quantavious Leslie of Jackson Callaway. Nelson is a product of Theodore (Ala.) High School. Tyler Poe of Pearl connected on the first of his three PATs.

The Eagles stretched their lead to 21-6 during the second period – first on Nelson’s 23-yard TD toss to wide receiver Keithon Redding of Columbia with 10:46 left, and later on Ragsdale’s 14-yard scamper with 51 seconds left before the break.

EC took the ensuing kickoff and quickly found itself in scoring position after Hall’s 38-yard pass to Freeman Gray of Tunica Academy to the Hinds 39. But the drive ended when Hall was intercepted by Gaige Washington of Clinton at the Eagle 25-yard-line.

Hinds threatened to extend its 21-6 lead midway in the third period but Poe’s 26-yard field goal attempt was blocked by defensive lineman Vodrick Lucious of Tuscaloosa (Ala.) County High School.

The Warrior offense responded to Houck’s standout defensive play with another score as Hall raced down sideline on a 55-yard sprint to the end zone with 5:12 left in the third period. Franklin’s PAT was not successful but EC closed the gap to 21-12.

The Warrior defense would again stop the Hinds offensive attack as defensive back Desmond Brown intercepted Nelson’s pass on the EC 25-yard-line with four minutes remaining in the third stanza.

EC’s offense took advantage of the opportunity by driving 75 yards in 13 plays with freshman running back Johnny Beamon crossing the goal line from six yards out early in the final period. Beamon is a product of New Hope High School. Franklin’s PAT cut the lead to 21-19.

The Warriors took the lead for good on Johnson’s 67-yard gallop to pay dirt and EC’s defense kept the Eagles at bay for the rest of the game.

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