October 18, 2019

A host of Warrior defenders bring down Hinds running back Don Ragsdale at the line of scrimmage in first half action. (EC Photo)

The No. 6 ranked Hinds Eagles used a touchdown in the final seconds of regulation and a field goal in the first overtime to hand the East Central Warriors a heartbreaking 23-20 football defeat and spoil Homecoming 2019 on the ECCC campus Thursday, Oct. 17.

East Central led 20-13 with just seconds to play before Hinds rallied to score the final 10 points of the game. The MACJC South Division contest was played in Bailey Stadium in Decatur.

With the Warriors leading by a touchdown, Hinds got the ball with 1:04 on the clock. The Eagles drove 80 yards in six plays to tie the game with 23 seconds to play. Quarterback Elijah Walker hit a wide open Tabashi Thomas for the 26-yard score to send the game to overtime.

The Warrior offense turned the ball over on downs on its first overtime possession with a costly penalty and a sack in the four-play series. The Eagles got the ball and moved to the East Central two-yard line before Carson Flumm kicked the game-winning field goal from 19 yards out.

East Central opened the game with an onside kick that was recovered by Hinds. The Eagles promptly drove 50 yards in six plays for the opening score and a 7-0 lead. Don Ragsdale carried from the eight for the touchdown.

The Warriors responded with a 70-yard, 13-play drive capped by a 16-yard scamper by freshman JD Martin (Wetumpka, Ala.). The drive included East Central converting a fourth and eight from the Hinds 34 on a 23-yard run by freshman quarterback Holman Edwards (French Camp Academy). The point after was blocked and Hinds led 7-6.

The Eagles scored again on their second possession, this time going 65 yards in 10 plays. Walker hit Traveyon Craig from four yards for the score. The Hinds point after was blocked, and the Eagles led 13-6 late in the first quarter.

It wasn’t until the next to the last play of the first half that either team was able to put more points on the scoreboard. Following an interception by freshman linebacker Trenton Ladner (Hancock) with 1:17 to play in the half, the Warriors moved to the Hinds six. With :04 on the clock, Edwards connected with sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Zachery (Dayton, Ohio) on a slant pattern for the score. The point after attempt from Robens Beauplan (Lehigh Acres, Fla., Riverdale) was wide left and the No. 6 Eagles carried a 13-12 lead to the locker room.

East Central wasted little time taking the lead to start the third quarter. The Warriors drove 75 yards in just seven plays, with Martin scoring his second touchdown of the game this time from the nine. Edwards carried for the two-point conversion and East Central had its first lead of the game 20-13. Martin picked up 52 yards on three carries on the drive.

The East Central lead held until 23 seconds to play when Hinds tied the game in regulation and then kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime.

Both teams moved the ball well offensively, with the Warriors gaining 348 yards in total offense, including 215 on the ground. Hinds amassed 402 yards of total offense, with the majority of that coming through the air. Penalties also were a factor in the game as East Central was flagged 10 times for 85 yards to just five penalties on the Eagles.

Martin had his fourth 100-yard plus rushing game of the season with 146 yards on 28 carries. Edwards was 16 of 28 passing for 133 yards.

The East Central defense held Ragsdale to just 76 yards rushing, his lowest total since the first game of the season. Ragsdale came into the game as the No. 2 rusher in the state and No. 7 in the nation at 101 yards per game.

Freshman corner Desmond Williams (Forsythe, Ga., Mary Persons) had a first-half interception for East Central. He leads the Warriors with four on the season.

The loss all but eliminated East Central from postseason play as the Warriors fell to 4-4 overall on the season and 3-2 in the MACJC South Division. Hinds improved to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the South Division. The Eagles will host No. 1 ranked Gulf Coast next week to decide the South Division title.

It was Homecoming 2019 at East Central. Sophomore biology-occupational therapy major Parker Breland of Union, a graduate of Union High School, was crowned the 2019 Homecoming Queen during halftime ceremonies.

Randy Cleveland of Fort Worth, Texas, retired Vice President Americas of ExxonMobil Corporation, and Linda Kelly Shepard of Carthage, retired Leake County Chamber of Commerce Director, were recognized as Alumnus and Alumna of the Year, and Pam Green Hampton of Quitman, a former Lady Warrior basketball standout, and Barry Irons of Philadelphia, a former Warrior football standout, were inducted into the ECCC Athletic Hall of Fame. The Class of 1969 celebrated its 50th reunion, and the first Alumni Band was assembled to play during pre-game and halftime ceremonies.

The loss to Hinds was the final home game of the 2019 season for East Central. The Warriors will now face their fifth straight ranked opponent, and sixth of the season, when they travel to Ellisville to face the No. 10 Jones Bobcats Thursday, Oct. 24. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium at Sim Cooley Field. It will be the final regular season game for both teams.

All East Central home and away football games can be heard on WKOZ “Cruisin” 98.3 radio or at www.eccc.edu/eccc-media. Live stream video of all home games as well as links to the live stream of road opponents can be found at www.eccc.edu/eccc-media.

East Central freshman running back JD Martin scampers for some of his 146 rushing yards in the loss to No. 6 Hinds. (EC Photo)