Gamble, a freshman running back out of Oxford High School (Ala.), rushed for 154 yards, and Hosket, a sophomore quarterback out of French Camp High School, passed for three touchdowns.
“I’m proud of the kids,” said ECCC Head Coach Ken Karcher after the win. “They believed we could win. Last week (31-28 loss to No. 1 Copiah-Lincoln) was tough, but they got over that, and I think they know they can compete with anybody in this league, and they took care of business.
“Hinds is a scary team. And we thought all week they’re one of the most talented teams in the league. I thought our defense did a great job.”
East Central improved to 4-2 overall on the season. The Warriors are now 1-2 in MACJC South Division play. Hinds fell to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the South Division.
It was Sophomore Recognition Night in Bailey Stadium, as the Warrior sophomore players and their families were honored in pre-game ceremonies. It also was Military Veterans and First Responders Appreciation Night, and all veterans and first responders were admitted free to the game, invited to participate in the Warrior Club Tailgate, recognized before kickoff.
East Central jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the game on two Hosket to Kabion Ento touchdown passes.
The Warriors drove 96 yards in 14 plays for their first score. Hosket connected on a quick out pass to sophomore wide receiver Ento of Dollarway High School in Pine Bluff, Ark., who turned up field and raced 22 yards to the end zone. Freshman kicker Aaron Garrett out of Meridian High School kicked the point after and East Central led 7-0 with 3:29 to go in the first quarter.
The drive started on East Central’s own four-yard line after sophomore linebacker Aubrey Bourn of Hattiesburg High School recovered an Eagle fumble to end the visitor’s opening drive of the game.
East Central extended its lead to 14-0 on its next possession on another Hosket to Ento scoring toss, this time covering 41 yards on the second play of the second quarter. The drive covered 65 yards in just five plays. Garrett kicked the point after.
“Hosket is flawless. He’s a quarterback coach’s dream is what he is,” Karcher said of his sophomore quarterback. “It’s an honor to coach the kid; he does everything you ask, and somebody (four-year college) is going to be lucky that takes him.”
Hinds would get a 25-yard field goal off the foot of freshman kicker Mason Sollie to cut the lead to 14-3 at 8:07 of second quarter.
On its next possession, the Eagles drove 80 yards in eight plays to pull within 14-10 just before the half. Sophomore wide receiver Jahmmir Taylor scored on a sweep from the five yard line. Sollie’s point after kick was good.
East Central went up 21-10 midway through the third quarter on a nine-yard run up the middle by Gamble. Garrett kicked the PAT. The nine-play, 61-yard drive was kept alive by a key fourth down conversion. Needing six yards, the Warriors picked up 18 yards on a Hosket pass to freshman wide receiver Noah Nix out of West Lauderdale High School on a wheel route.
“Coach was telling me that we needed to score that drive,” said Gamble. “I saw the hole open, and I just ran for the touchdown. I didn’t want to let anybody stop me.”
“Nix made that play to keep the drive alive,” Karcher added. “Noah’s got great ability, and he’s done a good job for us.”
Hinds answered on its next drive with a 42-yard Sollie field goal. With 2:19 left in the third quarter, the East Central lead was 21-13.
The Warriors appeared to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter on Hosket’s third touchdown pass of the evening, a perfect strike to freshman wide receiver Henri Murphy on a 28-yard slant route. Murphy is a product of Dollarway High School in Pine Bluff, Ark. Garrett’s point after kick put East Central up 28-12 with 13:52 to go in the game.
But Hinds would not quit. With 5:01 remaining, quarterback TR Page hit running back DJ Sims on a 15-yard pass and run. Sollie’s point after attempt was wide left, and East Central had its final 28-19 margin of victory.
East Central finished with 448 yards total offense, including 284 on the ground. Gamble carried the ball 22 times for 154 yards and one touchdown. Hosket was 10 of 17 passing for 164 yards and three scores. Ento caught six passes for 106 yards and the two scores.
Sophomore defensive end Jadarius Ceasar out of Paul Bryant High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was in the Hinds backfield all night, recording three sacks for minus 15 yards and three tackles for losses of nine yards. The Warrior defense had six sacks on the night, including one for freshman defensive lineman Courtney Stamper, a product of Red Bank High School in Chattanooga, Tenn., that resulted in a loss of 24 yards. Sophomore linebacker Devontae Wilson out of Warren Central High School in Vicksburg led the Warrior defense with seven total tackles.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game going against Hinds,” Ceasar said. “I just had to play my part. They ran the dive a lot, but then they got out of that, and I knew it was time to crank it up then.”
East Central will travel to Jones County Junior College in Ellisville next Saturday, Oct. 10, for a South Division showdown. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. in Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field.
The game can be heard on WKOZ 98.3 “The Groove” or via audio stream at www.eccc.edu. You can watch the game at www.jcjc.tv.
“It’s going to be a couple of days extra rest,” said Karcher. “The guys will have a longer weekend. We won’t start up again until Tuesday, so hopefully some guys that have bruises will get some rest.”