No. 20 ICC wins fourth-straight over Northeast, secures playoff spotOctober 21, 2013
FULTON, MS – Two word best describes No. 20 Itawamba Community College’s 36-33 come-from-behind win over rival Northeast Mississippi Community College on Thursday.
“This is what rivalry games are all about,” said ICC head coach Jon Williams. “Two teams slugging it out to the very last play of the game and our guys found a way to be on the positive side of things at the end of the night.”
The Indians (6-2; 4-1 MACJC North) snapped a two-game losing streak when Griff Loftis (Mooreville) found Jarvis Bentley (Columbus, GA) for an 11-yard touchdown pass to take a 36-33 lead on a two-point conversion pass to Shante Rogers (Itawamba AHS) with 1:10 left in the game.
The Tigers (3-5; 3-2 MACJC North) promptly moved the ball to midfield with enough time for one last shot, but a pair of Indian defenders batted the ball out of the back of the end zone to give ICC its fourth-straight win over their rivals.
“I’m proud of the effort we got out of the guys,” said Williams. “Things hadn’t been going our way the past two weeks, but instead of hanging their heads they dug deep to battle through adversity to find a win to come away with a big win against a really good football team.”
ICC opened the scoring when Myles Harges (Grenada) scooped up a botched snap and returned it 2 yards on the first drive of the game and went ahead 14-0 on an 11-yard scoring pass to Jacquez McMillian (Southaven) before the Tigers answered with a 3-yard touchdown run by Jerrard Randle and a 1-yard plunge into the end zone by Corbin White to make it 14-13 at the end of the first quarter.
The Indians answered with a 32-yard touchdown pass to LaDarrell Hunt (Noxubee County) from Loftis to take a 21-13 lead at the break before Northeast rattled off 20-unanswered points to take a 33-21 lead with 11:25 left in the fourth quarter.
Northeast appeared to put the game away when they picked off a Loftis pass in the end zone, but Rogers saved the day by stripping the ball from the Tiger defender when he tried to return the interception allowing McMillian to recover the fumble in the end zone for the touchdown.
“That was the play of the game and maybe even of the season,” Williams commented. “It was a big play that appeared to turn things around for them, but Shante did a great job of not giving up on the play and making something happen... that’s something that he has done for us all season long.”
Rogers finished the night with 107 yards on five catches while Loftis had 361 yards on 22 of 41 passing with three touchdowns and three interceptions along with rushing for six yards on two carries.
Tobias Loftis (Forest) rushed for 110 yards on 13 carries as ICC totaled 528 yards of total offense.
Defensively, Darius White (Grenada) had a career night recording 11 tackles (10 solo; 1 assist), 2 interceptions returned for 25 yards, and breaking up three passes. Harges added 11 tackles (7 solo; 4 assists) and 1.5 tackles for a loss of 3 yards to go along with his 2-yard fumble returned for a score and Larry Jefferson (Banneker, GA) had a career-high 10 tackles (9 solo; 1 assist) with a sack and 2 tackles for a loss of nine yards.
The win gives ICC the head-to-head tiebreaker against Northeast to secure the Indians first trip to the playoffs season 2007.
“It feels good to have secured a spot in the postseason,” said Williams. “It was one of the goals that we had at the start of the season after missing out the past few years on tie breakers, but we can’t just hang our hat on making the playoffs because there is still a lot of football to play this season.”
Up next for the Indians will be a road trip to No. 2 East Mississippi Community College (8-0; 5-0 MACJC North) with the MACJC North Division championship on the line Thursday night.
“East Mississippi is the best team in the country and they have left little doubt of that all season long,” Williams said. “Their defense has scored more points than they have allowed this and they have the most high-powered offense in the nation, but we are excited about the extremely tough challenge of playing them for the North Championship.”
The Lions defeated Northwest Mississippi Community College (1-7; 1-5 MACJC North) 79-7 after a 51-point third quarter.
The loser of Thursday’s night game will travel to No. 6 Jones County Junior College (7-1; 5-1 MACJC South) while the winner will host No. 7 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (7-1; 4-1 MACJC South) in the opening round of the playoffs.
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