East Central Warriors Rally for Win

Freshman running back David McCants' 12-yard touchdown run late in the third period gave East Central Community College the lead for good and the Warriors held on for a 12-7 South Division victory over Copiah-Lincoln Community College Saturday afternoon in Wesson.

With the win, East Central improved to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in league play, while the Wolves dropped to 1-2 and 1-1.

Warrior head coach Terry Underwood was obviously pleased with his team's efforts in recording their second-straight victory of the 2005 campaign.

"I was very proud of our team for finding a way to win. It was a very physical game, and several of our players were banged up and bruised but they continued to play. Our defense really came up big, allowing just 98 yards total offense. And Lowery did a great job leading the offense after McDonald got hurt. McCants had another good day running the ball and Derrick Qualls had several key plays. Overall, it was a great team effort and I was especially proud of our team's toughness....they did what they had to do to win," Underwood stated.

McCants, a product of Tuscaloosa (Ala.) County High School, scored the game-clinching touchdown with a minute left in the third period, capping a six-play, 49-yard drive. McCants also had runs of 11 and two yards during the march but the key play was a 29-yard burst by sophomore running back Derrick Qualls of Forest, which gave EC possession on the Wolves' 12 yard line.

McCants scored on the next play. The try for the two-point conversion was not successful, as Lowery's pass attempt to Lonnie Starks, a freshman from Warwick High School in Newport News, VA, fell incomplete. Lowery, a freshman from Sparta, Tenn., and a former standout at White County High School, led the Warrior offense after starter Elijah McDonald of Morton left the contest midway in the second period due to an ankle injury.

On his first series as the Warrior signal caller, Lowery directed the Warrior offense on a seven-play, 44-yard march capped by his 19-yard touchdown strike to Qualls with 8:34 left before halftime.

Grey LaPrade, a freshman from Forest, missed on his PAT attempt. Co-Lin took a 7-6 lead late in the first half when quarterback Cedric Johnson of Americus, Ga., tallied on a two-yard run with just 34 seconds remaining. Nick Gunter of Wesson added the PAT.

The Warrior defense kept the Co-Lin attack in check most of the day, and did not allow the Wolves into EC territory following the go-ahead score. The Warrior offense also made key plays to maintain possession late in the contest, including a 25-yard pass completion from Lowery to Qualls on third and 10 at the Warrior 15, and McCants' six-yard burst for a first down at midfield, which allowed EC to run out the clock for the win. 

McCants led EC in rushing with 133 yards on 27 carries and one score. Lowery completed six of 14 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. McDonald was four of 12 with 18 yards prior to leaving the game with an injury. Qualls was the leading receiver with two receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown. Qualls also had 31 yards on three carries.

Linebacker Paul Tolbert, a product of Clinch (Ga.) County High School, led the Warrior defense with seven tackles and six assists. Defensive back Ivon Hickmon of Lake had eight solo stops and two assists.

The Warriors host Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College for Homecoming this Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Newton County High School. The Bulldogs are 2-1 following their 34-31 overtime homecoming loss to visiting Southwest Mississippi Community College Saturday afternoon. All Warrior football games can be heard on KICKS 98 (98.3 FM) in Carthage, featuring veteran broadcasters Melvin Wooten and Gilbert Barham, and on the ECCC website, www.eccc.edu.  

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