ECCC is 2-0 on the season. Coahoma fell to 0-2.
“I thought our guys played hard. I don’t think we always played smart, especially in the first quarter,” East Central Head Coach Ken Karcher said. “I thought our defense misjudged some things and didn’t do the things they are usually doing. … But I thought our guys played hard and with great enthusiasm, and we had a lot of big plays on both sides of the ball.”
While managing only eight first downs, East Central was able to put 27 points on the scoreboard in the first half for the second straight week.
The Warriors would take an early 3-0 lead after Coahoma bobbled the snap on a punt attempt and East Central recovered on the Tigers’ 18-yard line. Three plays later, freshman kicker Aaron Garrett out of Meridian High School was good on a 36-yard field goal and East Central led 3-0 with 12:19 left in the first quarter.
Coahoma would quickly grab the lead with an 80-yard drive capped by a 45-yard touchdown pass by a scrambling Dominic Marino to running back Earnest Butler. The point after was good and the Tigers had a 7-3 lead.
Coahoma recovered its ensuing onside kick and took over at the East Central 45 yard line. Unable to move the ball, the Tigers lost 14 yards on a fake punt on fourth down and the Warriors took over deep in Coahoma territory. On the very next play, East Central’s Hosket, a product of French Camp High School, hit a wide-open sophomore wide receiver Devin McIntosh of Amory High School on a 35-yard scoring strike. Garrett’s point after was good and East Central led 10-7 with 5:22 to go in the opening quarter.
Less than a minute later, sophomore defensive back Devontae Wilson from Warren Central High School in Vicksburg batted a Marino pass up in the air and the freshman Sangster from Louisville High School pulled it down at the 22 and rambled to the end zone with Coahoma defenders hanging on. Garrett’s kick was good again and the Warriors led 17-7.
“I just looked up and my eyes just got big,” Sangster said of his big play. “I just took it. I realized how close I was to the end zone, and I was thinking ‘I’m going to get this.’ I was determined in my mind to get in. It felt awesome and to turn around and have my teammates right there to celebrate with me, that was an awesome feeling.”
East Central extended its lead on the next offensive possession with a 78-yard drive culminating with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Hosket to sophomore wide receiver Toriano Howard out of Quitman High School. The key play of the drive was a 52-yard pass from Hosket to sophomore wide receiver Kabion Ento out of Dollarway High School in Pine Bluff, Ark. Garrett’s kick was good and East Central was up 24-7.
Coahoma marched right back with a 78-yard drive of its own, with Marino hitting wide receiver Devonta Jones on a 35-yard scoring strike. The extra point was blocked and the Warriors’ lead was cut to 24-13 with 11:09 to play in the first half.
On its next possession, East Central drove 66 yards before stalling at the Coahoma nine-yard line. Garrett connected on a 25-yard field goal and the Warriors would take 27-13 lead to the locker room at the half.
Hosket came out throwing again in the second half. On the Warriors’ second possession, he connected with Ento, this time for 51 yards and the score. With Garrett’s extra point, East Central was up 34-13 with 11:40 to go in the third quarter.
Neither team would score again until midway through the final quarter. Garrett added a 28-yard field goal with 8:43 remaining in the game after Breyron Jackson, a freshman defensive end out of Germantown High School in Canton, picked off a Marino pass at the Coahoma 16 yard line. Garrett’s kick pushed the East Central lead to 37-13.
Moments later, the speedy freshman running back Poe, a product of Philadelphia High School, raced 76 yards for another Warrior score with 5:31 left in the game. Garrett’s point after made score 44-13.
“I give all the credit to the offensive line,” Poe said of his run. “I saw the hole and I just hit it to the outside and just ran. I’m just going in there to do my part and do my best whenever they call my name.”
Just 20 seconds later, East Central sophomore defensive lineman Derek Mahaffey out of Oxford High School (Ala.) tackled Coahoma’s running back in the end zone for a safety and the Warriors built the lead to the final 46-13 margin.
East Central piled up 424 yards total offense on the evening. The Warrior defense produced five sacks, two blocked kicks, three interceptions, and a safety, while holding the Coahoma offense without a first down in the second half.
Hosket, a sophomore, finished the game 11 of 24 passing for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Ento was on the receiving end of five of those passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. Poe finished with 116 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. Sophomore safety Austin Balthazor out of Seminary High School in Collins also had an interception for the Warriors.
Garrett connected on three field goals on the evening and five extra points. He handled the punting and kickoffs as well.
East Central hits the road next week for the first time this season traveling to Perkinston on Thursday, Sept. 10, to face the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. from A.L. May Stadium. The Warriors will look to start a season 3-0 for the first time since 2000.
“Gulf Coast is a great program and one of our perennial powers,” Karcher said. “I don’t know when the last time East Central has even beat them. But it’s going to be about us. We have to make sure we play flawless football. We can’t turn the ball over; we’ve been good with that so far. We can’t make mistakes and we can’t have penalties, because to beat a championship team we’re going to have to be on top of our game. But I am excited to go down there and play them.”