August 30, 2019

East Central freshman quarterback Holman Edwards (French Camp Academy) flips to freshman running back JD Martin (Wetumpka, Ala.) on a sweep during first half action against Northwest. (EC Photo)

The No. 9 Northwest Rangers took advantage of costly East Central Community College fumbles to earn a season-opening 26-13 win over the Warriors in non-division MACJC football action Thursday, Aug. 29, in Bailey Stadium in Decatur.

The young East Central squad laid the football on the synthetic turf of Warrior field four times in the contest, losing three of them to the Rangers. Northwest turned two of the turnovers into 13 points for the difference in the game.

The Warriors, who have 36 freshmen on the 55-man roster, open 2019 with a 0-1 record, while the Rangers start the new season 1-0.

Turnovers set the tone early as East Central coughed up the football on its opening drive of the game. Northwest needed just four plays to cover the 31 yards for the score. Quarterback Jack Walker threw the first of his three touchdown passes on the night, this one for 24 yards to Braden Smith.

After Walker connected with Smith from nine yards out on Northwest’s second possession, East Central got on the board. Freshman kicker Robens Beauplan (Lehigh Acres, Fla., Riverdale) kicked a 23-yard field goal to make the score 13-3.

Beauplan nailed a 42-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to cap off a 66-yard, 15-play drive to close the gap to 13-6.

The Rangers, however, needed just 14 seconds to completely shift the momentum of the game back to the visiting side. Keyon Fordham returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for the score and the 20-6 Northwest lead at the half.

The two teams traded second half scores and Northwest left Decatur with the 26-13 win.

East Central’s fourth quarter touchdown came on a six-yard run by sophomore running back Marq Qualls (Lake).

The Warriors fared better in the statistical department than on the scoreboard, with East Central managing 17 first downs to 11 for Northwest and controlling the time of possession 35 minutes to 24 minutes for the Rangers. East Central ran 20 more offensive plays in the game. Northwest had 267 yards of total offense to 264 for the Warriors.

The kicking game, which struggled some for the Warriors in 2018, was a bright spot. Beauplan hit two field goals, while just missing on a 42-yard attempt. He also averaged 45 yards on three punts and was good on his only extra point attempt.

Offensively, East Central was led by freshman quarterback Holman Edwards (French Camp Academy), who was 22 of 32 through the air for 126 yards, while Qualls rushed for 53 yards on 12 carries. Freshman JD Martin (Wetumpka, Ala.) rushed for 38 yards and had another 46 receiving.

Sophomore linebacker Elijah Keyes (Mize) had nine total tackles for the East Central defense, while sophomore linebacker Anthony Blakely (Greene County) had eight and sophomore linebacker Payton Rogers (Forest) seven.

East Central will remain at home next Thursday, Sept. 5, to face the Itawamba Indians. Kickoff from Bailey Stadium is 6:30 p.m. The Sebastopol High School Bobcat Band will perform at halftime, along with ECCC’s Wall O’ Sound Marching Band.

The Warriors get into MACJC South Division action the following Thursday, Sept. 12, with a trip to Summit to face the Southwest Bears.

All home and away football action this season can be heard on WKOZ “Cruisin” 98.3 radio or at Live stream video of all home games as well as links to the live stream of road opponents can also be found at