September 15, 2016
The East Central Community College football team brought home its first win of the season after traveling to Poplarville Sept. 15 to take on the Pearl River Community College Wildcats in a MACJC South Division opener.
The Warriors pulled out a 35-21 victory over the Wildcats by taking advantage of turnovers.
Sophomore defensive back Juwon Hayes-Keyes of Taylorsville High School picked off three Pearl River passes during the contest.
Pearl River got on the scoreboard first in the game on a 10-yard touchdown pass on its opening possession.
Hayes-Keyes got his first interception during the Wildcats next possession to put the Warriors in scoring position.
East Central then had a 25-yard touchdown run by freshman Antonio Gibson of Eagles Landing (Ga.) High School, who had a notable performance at running back, to tie the ballgame at seven. Gibson also plays wide receiver for the Warriors.
Early in the second quarter, the Warriors turned the ball over on their own 15, but the East Central defense held and Pearl River missed a 31-yard field goal to keep the game tied at 7-7.
Gibson carried the load on an 80-yard drive capped by quarterback Dom Marino’s nine-yard touchdown run that gave East Central a 14-7 lead. The Warriors did not hold the lead long when Pearl River returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
East Central responded on the next kickoff with an 86-yard return by Devonta Jones of Morton High School to the Pearl River nine yard line. Running back Dwayne Barnett of Harrison Central High School then found the end zone on the next play to put the Warriors back on top 21-14.
East Central then took over on its own 27 with a fumble recovery by Isiah Thomas of Madison Central High School, but was not able to produce any points.
Hayes-Keyes then had his second interception of the first half to give the Warriors the football at the Pearl River 38. A few plays later, Barnett was able to stiff-arm his way into the end zone with a nine-yard touchdown run to extend the Warrior lead 28-14 at the half.
In the third quarter, Hayes-Keyes had his third interception of the night giving the Warriors the football at their own 29.
The Warriors extended their lead to three touchdowns when Marino found Jones for a 57-yard touchdown pass giving the Warriors a 35-14 lead with one minute to play in the third quarter.
Pearl River was able to find the end zone one more time in the fourth quarter before East Central ran the clock out for the win.
For East Central, Marino, out of Venice (Fla.) High School, was 8 for 10 through the air for 119 yards. Gibson was the leader in rushing yards with 90 total yards for the Warriors on 12 carries. Barnett added 72 yards on the ground to go with his two touchdowns. Jones was the top receiver with four catches for 77 yards. Defensive back Malik Davis of Red Bank High School in Chattanooga, Tenn., was credited with nine tackles. Hayes-Keyes had 11 total tackles.
East Central improves to 1-2 on the season and 1-0 in the South Division.
The Warriors will host Mississippi Gulf Coast next Thursday, Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m. in Bailey Stadium on Be Our Guest Night. High School students will be admitted free and door prizes will be awarded. One student will be chosen to attempt a 20-yard field goal at halftime to win free tuition for the fall 2017 semester.
If you can't watch East Central Community College play in person, follow the Warriors on the radio or watch them on live stream video. Tune in to WKOZ “Cruisin” 98.3 or watch or listen live at www.eccc.edu/eccc-media.
(Top Left) East Central's Devonta Jones returns a kickoff 86 yards against Pearl River; (Top Right) Warrior quarterback Dom Marino scrambles for yardage in the first half against the Wildcats. (EC Photo)