September 24, 2021

The Warriors of East Central Community College moved to 1-3, 1-1 on the 2021 season Thursday night, Sept. 23, as Anthony Thomas (Stringer) blocked a potential Southwest go-ahead field goal with just two minutes remaining in the contest. Fellow defensive back Michael Coats Jr. (Biloxi) scooped up the block and ran it 86 yards to push the game to the 21-13 final score. With the loss, the Bears of Southwest Mississippi Community College fall to 1-3, 0-2. 

The opening quarter of play was slow as both teams combined for seven punts, but the Warriors closed out the frame in style as Larry Wilson(Hazlehurst) broke out a 48-yard touchdown run as the quarter expired. Jaren Van Winkle (Pinson, Ala.) tacked on the ever-important point after to give ECCC a 7-0 lead. The score was Wilson's first touchdown of the year.

In the second quarter, the Bears manufactured an 11-play drive that covered 77 yards and set the Bears up for a short field goal try. After a bobbled snap SMCC's Christopher Roberson tried to take it around the edge, but the Warrior's field goal unit stuffed the attempt — forcing a turnover on downs. Unfortunately, the Warriors were unable to capitalize on the momentum as the teams returned to back-and-forth punts for much of the remaining 10 minutes. 

The game came alive in the second half as the Bears rattled off a three-play 79-yard drive that saw back-to-back lengthy runs from quarterback Roberson. One scamper totaled 43 yards before the freshman took it 36 on the following play for the touchdown. The PAT was no good, making it 7-6 in ECCC's favor 12:26 remaining in the third. 

After an ECCC turnover on downs, the Bears were quick to strike again as Roberson found Jacoby Bellazar from 36-yards out to close a four-play drive. The point after was good, putting the Bears on top of the first time, 13-7. 

Two ECCC possessions later, Caleb Parten (Flowood) checked in at quarterback. The freshman found sophomore Keyser Booth (Bassfield) on a swing pass to the left side of the field. Booth danced by several would-be tacklers and took it 73-yards for the score. The score is the Warriors' longest play from scrimmage this season, and the first 70-plus yard reception since James Smith III posted an 80-yard reception against Co-Lin in 2017. After Van Winkle's extra point, the Warriors were back on top, 14-13. 

The score would hold until the Warriors' late-game dagger on the blocked kick from Thomas, and touchdown recovery from Coats. 

Despite the loss, the Bears outpaced the Warrior offense with 390 yards (196 passing and 194 rushing) compared to ECCC's 295 (173 passing and 122 rushing). The teams combined for 19 punts as the Warriors were 0-for-12 on third down attempts, while Southwest was just 2-of-14. The Warriors' offense was led by Wilson's carries as the sophomore cracked the century mark for the first time in 2021 with 108 yards on 17 carries and a score. Parten was five-of-10 for 121 yards and a touchdown, while Gabriel Larry (Manvel, La.) was five-for-12 for 52 yards. Booth led ECCC's receivers with seven catches for 114 yards and a score. 

Defensively, the Warriors were led by Ke'Sean Johnson (Quitman), who posted 13 tackles, and Dareon Goodrum (Watkinsville, Ga.) who wrapped up nine. Goodrum, Ryan Kimbrell(Flowood), Rish Alford (Houston), Ryan Whitfield (Noxapater), and Ray Gibson (Philadelphia) all posted either solo or assisted sacks, while Equandric Ross (Prentiss) and Johnson joined the group with tackles for loss. Josten James (Wiggins), Tori Mulkey (Ozark, Ala.), and Coats all posted interceptions for the Warriors on the night. 

ECCC's special teams shined throughout the night as Ross James (Flowood) averaged 40.7 yards per punt over nine kicks with three landing inside the 20-yard line, while Van Winkle nailed all three extra-point attempts. 

Turnovers plagued both teams as the Warriors lost four fumbles on the night, while the Bears lost two and threw three interceptions. 

The Warriors are back at home in Bailey Stadium next Thursday, Sept. 30 as the Pearl River Wildcats travel to Decatur to continue MACCC South Division play. PRCC brings a 1-3, 0-2 record into the game after falling to Co-Lin, 48-15, on Thursday night. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. and fans can watch the action live at