Quarterback Donnie Farmer’s 37-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Jimmy Cockrell with 46 seconds remaining gave East Central Community a thrilling 36-31 homecoming victory over Mississippi Delta Community College Saturday, October 12 at Bailey Stadium on the Decatur campus.
Cockrell’s finger-tip grab in the end zone provided the Warriors and first-year head coach Ken Karcher with their first victory of the 2013 campaign and snapped a six-game losing skid.
Following the non-division battle, Karcher said he was “very pleased” with the win and was “very proud” that his squad “never quit battling.”
“I’m happy for the kids; it’s been a long, emotional time for them,” said Karcher. “It’s been hard, but they kept fighting. Finally we played an evenly-matched team. The game could have gone either way…and our kids made a big play at the end.”
The Warriors started well against the now 1-6 Trojans by putting up two scores in the first quarter – a 43-yard run by freshman speedster Lemarcus Franks with 9:40 remaining, followed by Farmer’s 18-yard TD toss to Cockrell with 6:48 left. The first PAT attempt was blocked and Farmer ran for the two-point conversion following the second tally.
Farmer, a freshman product from Harrison Central, finished the day by completing 10 of 22 passes for 116 yards and two scores. Cockrell, a freshman from Columbus, led EC receivers with three grabs for 75 yards and the game-winning TD.
Delta got on the scoreboard when quarterback Jaylon Daniels of Greenwood and wide receiver Passarrio Collins of Itta Bena connected on a 41-yard scoring pass play with 5:30 left. The PAT failed.
The Trojans narrowed the EC advantage to 14-13 on Daniels’ 27-yard TD pass to wide receiver Carlton Archer of Indianola early in second quarter action. Zacarion Goodman of Greenville added the PAT.
Delta took its first lead when Goodman split the uprights on his 26-yard field goal with four seconds left before halftime.
The Warriors regained the lead midway in the third stanza on sophomore running back Martin’s Johnson’s five-yard scamper, capping a nine-play, 62-yard march. Johnson is a product of Nanih Waiya High School. Farmer and Cockrell combined talents for the two-point conversion, which gave the Warriors a 22-16 advantage.
EC extended the lead to 30-16 early in the final stanza on Franks’ 16-yard dash to pay dirt for his second tally and best day at running back, as he finished with 204 yards on 28 carries. Farmer again connected with Cockrell for the two-point conversion.
However, the Trojans were not done on this sunny afternoon and rallied for two scores and the lead.
Daniels fired an 11-yard TD strike to wide receiver Kamron Carter of Greenwood with 9:11 left, and following Goodman’s PAT the Trojans closed the scoring gap to 30-23.
After an exchange of possession, Delta took over on its 32-yard line with 5:32 remaining, and eight plays later the visitors found the end zone on Daniel’s 22-yard TD toss to Carter with 1:53 left.
Instead of tying the contest, the Trojans opted for the two-point conversion and were successful as workhorse running back Edward McCadney of Cleveland walked into the end zone untouched and gave his team a 31-30 advantage. McCadney led Delta rushers with 132 yards on 22 carries.
Warrior special teams member Desmond Grayson of Meridian returned the ensuing kickoff 32 yards to near midfield, and following Franks’ 22-yard scamper on first down, EC was in scoring position at the Delta 35-yard line.
But after Franks lost two yards on first down, and following two incomplete passes, the Warriors faced fourth and 12 at the 37 and needed a miraculous play to finally enter the win column.
Farmer and Cockrell provided the “miraculous play,” and the Warrior defense kept the Trojans from gaining a yard in their final possession, which began at the Delta 42.
Freshman linebacker Christian Wraggs of Louisville put an exclamation point to the victory when he sacked quarterback Daniels on fourth and 10. The Warrior offense ran out the clock and the celebration was under way.
East Central will be homecoming guest of division foe Pearl River Community College Saturday, Oct. 19. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. on the Poplarville campus.
The Wildcats are 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the MACJC South Division following their 37-27 defeat to Copiah-Lincoln Community College Saturday, Oct. 12.