October 26, 2017

Sophomore running back Donterrius Poe fights for some of his 71 first half rushing yards against Southwest. The Philadelphia High School product came off the bench to ignite the Warriors’ running game. (EC Photo)

The Southwest Mississippi Community College Bears overcame a four-touchdown performance from freshman quarterback Mario Asagunla to defeat the East Central Community College Warriors 38-34 in the season finale for both teams Thursday evening, Oct. 26.

It was Sophomore Recognition Night at Bailey Stadium in Decatur, as East Central honored 24 sophomore football players and two managers during pre-game ceremonies.

The game pitted two teams with a combined one win on the season playing for pride. The Warriors would benefit from big plays on offense to take a 28-14 first half lead, before Southwest stormed back with 24 second half points and the 38-34 victory.

East Central jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead by setting the big play tone early. Keonte’ Daniels out of Noxapater returned the opening kickoff 65 yards to the Southwest 35-yard line. Three plays later, freshman quarterback Mario Asagunla out of Hillcrest Christian in Jackson would throw the first of his three first-half touchdown passes. Sophomore wide receiver Antonio Gibson (Stockbridge, Ga.) hauled in a 27-yard scoring strike. After the PAT by Zach Engell out of the Lamar School in Meridian, the Warriors led 7-0.

Just seconds later, Southwest fumbled on its first offensive play of the game and the Warriors took over on the Bear 29. On the next play, Asagunla hit a streaking tight end Nigel Wood out of Petal in the end zone for East Central’s second score with less than two minutes gone off the game clock.

Southwest pulled within a touchdown midway through the first quarter with a 65-yard drive capped by a one-yard run by quarterback Juwan Adams on fourth and goal.

East Central’s next big play of the first half came on the first play of the second quarter on a 39-yard jet sweep by wide receiver Kevontaye Caston out of Trinity Episcopal in Natchez to extend the Warrior lead back to two touchdowns at 21-7.

Southwest again pulled within seven in the second quarter with a seven-play, 85-yard drive capped by a two-yard run by running back Chase Hughes.

Big play number four for East Central came with just three seconds showing on the halftime clock as Asagunla threw his third touchdown of the half and the second to Wood, this one from the eight-yard line.

Southwest went to the big play in the third quarter to tie the game at 28-28, and more importantly grab the momentum. After a series of punts, the Warriors mounted a long drive. On a fourth down and 12 from the Bear 27, Asagunla under pressure floated a short pass that receiver Octavious Olowo-ake (Jackson Murrah) couldn’t handle and Southwest’s Pier’e Jones caught the deflection and raced 75 yards for the score. With 2:08 to play in the quarter, East Central’s lead was 28-21.

An East Central punt forced Southwest to take over on its own one-yard line. Bear quarterback Adams promptly hit wide receiver Neil McLaurin in stride at about the 50-yard line and he sprinted the rest of the way for the score as the third quarter horn was sounding. The 99-yard play tied the score 28-28 with 15 minutes to play.

Asagunla tossed his fourth touchdown pass of the game with 10:40 to play to help East Central regain the lead, this time for 12 yards to sophomore tight end Chris Deloach from Columbus to cap a short 43-yard drive. The PAT was no good, but the Warriors had a 34-28 lead.

After pulling to within 34-31 with a 35-yard field goal, Southwest would take advantage of a Warrior fumble and take its first lead of the game. On a fourth and seven play from the East Central 30, Adams connected with McLaurin again and Southwest had its 38-34 lead with 4:03 to play.

East Central would get one final shot to win the game with three plays from the Bear eight-yard line in the final minute. But Asagunla was off target on three passes and Southwest was able to run the clock out for the win.

East Central was penalized 13 times on the game for 110 yards. The Warriors had two second half touchdowns called back due to holding penalties.

East Central had 23 first downs on the night to 13 for Southwest.

Asagunla was 19 or 35 passing for 235 yards and the four scores. Wood had four receptions for 43 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Donterrius Poe out of Philadelphia High School rushed for 99 yards, including 71 in the first half.

East Central finished its 2017 season with a 1-8 overall record and 0-6 in MACJC South Division play. Southwest ended its season 1-8 overall and 1-5 in the South Division.

Score by Quarter:

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
SMCC 7 7 14 10 38
ECCC 14 14 0 6 34