NE Miss Falls to MGCC In Overtime

BOONEVILLE, Miss.,--Northeast Mississippi Community College's football team carried the South Division champion to the limit before falling to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs in overtime during the semifinals of the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) state football playoffs.

Northeast (6-4, 4-2 in the North Division) entered the playoffs as the second seed from the North Division and pushed South Division champion Mississippi Gulf Coast to overtime before ultimately falling 20-17 on a 40-yard field goal by Taylor Pontius on fourth-and-eight.

Both teams battled to a 17-all tie in regulation before entering the extra session. Northeast saw its hopes of a prolonged overtime disappear when Mississippi Gulf Coast was able to come away with a fumble on the Tigers first play in the extra frame.

However, Northeast's defense held strong and forced the Mississippi Gulf Coast offense into a fourth-and-eight situation from the 23-yard line and Pontius was true on the field goal attempt sending the Bulldogs to their fifth straight MACJC state championship game.

Northeast held the lead at half 10-7 thanks to a 50-yard field goal by Taylor Earhart (Olive Branch) and then battled back from a 14-10 deficit to take a 17-14 lead on the Bulldogs before Mississippi Gulf Coast could respond.

Former University of Mississippi quarterback Raymond Cotton put the Bulldogs up 14-10 when Cotton found Javon Bell on a 20-yard strike on Gulf Coast's second possession of the third quarter with 11:41 showing a.

Northeast would not go quietly and former Corinth High School signal caller Parks Frazier gave the Tigers the lead on Northeast's next possession when the Tiger freshman found Tres' Houston (Atlanta) on a 38-yard scoring pass along the sideline.

Houston broke through a hold by linebacker Chris Payne and battled his way passed a pair of Bulldog defenders in finding his route to the end zone. Earhart, who cleared his 50-yarder with a foot to spare with eight seconds to go in the first half, got a friendly bounce on the extra point attempt after the try was tipped giving the visitors a 17-14 advantage.

Northeast would hold the edge over Mississippi Gulf Coast until the 12:22-mark of the fourth quarter when Pontius converted on a 25-yard try after Gulf Coast coach Steve Campbell decided to go for the field goal instead of a first down on fourth-and-one from the Tiger 8.

Mississippi Gulf Coast thwarted a Tiger scoring effort with 9:09 to go when the Bulldogs stepped in front of J.R. Jennings pass near the end zone and returned the ball to the 19-yard line. However, Tiger sophomore Ryan Richardson (Ripley) returned the favor when he came away with an interception with 6:27 left in the game ending Gulf Coast's ensuing drive.

Northeast and Gulf Coast would share punts on the final four drives of the game before setting up overtime.

Earlier in the contest, Gulf Coast took an early lead in the semifinal contest when Clint Hatten found Bell on a 15-yard strike with 8:47 left in the first.

Northeast pieced together a nine-play, 90-yard drive that spanned the latter part of the first and first part of the second quarter in knotting the game at 7-all.

Following a 66-yard pass from Jennings to Houston, Northeast found itself with first-and-goal from 10 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the first half.

Northeast would force the ball to the one before deciding to go for the touchdown over the field goal during a timeout with 11:25 to go in the second quarter.

Jamarcus Goodloe (Leighton, Ala.) found paydirt with 11:18 to go and following Earhart's extra point, the game would remain tied until Earhart booted his 50-yarder through with eight seconds remaining in the half.

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