E. Central upsets Co-Lin celebration
WESSON – Mistakes! That’s what brought Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege’s undefeated season to an abrupt end Saturday afternoon asthe East Central Warriors spoiled the Wolves’ homecomingfestivities with a 28-14 upset in Stone Stadium. Co-Lin was rankedNo. 13 in the latest NJCAA poll.
The Warriors (4-1, 1-1) took advantage of three Co-Lininterceptions to secure the win. The second theft all but put theWolves asleep. Warrior sophomore defensive back John Chaney dartedin front of quarterback Willie Johnson ‘s pass and returned it 65yards to paydirt, with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter.
“John made the big play when we needed it the most,” said EastCentral coach Terry Underwood. “He just stepped in front of it andtook off. Overall, we beat one of the best team’s in the state. Andthat’s big.”
The Wolves (4-1, 1-1) seemed out of sync early, as the Warriorstook advantage of early Wolfpack mistakes for a quick 14-0 lead.The Warriors used Brian Zbydniewski 44-yard pass to sophomoreplaymaker Dontay Spillman, to draw first blood. Ten minutes laterthe Warriors hit paydirt again as sophomore running back PatrickPrine scored from one yard out.
“Getting the lead early helped us,” added Underwood. “Dontayhelped us move the ball a lot in the first half, when Brian threwthe long ball.”
Spillman, a 6-2, 195-pound sophomore receiver from Louisville,Ky., torched the Wolves on the ground and in the air. Spillmanracked up a total of five receptions for 135 yards through the air,plus an added 31 yards on the ground off two carries. Of thosereceiving yards 105 came in the first half alone.
“Dontay’s the real deal,” continued Underwood. “Almost everyDivision One school in the country is after him. He’s a great assetto our team.”
Despite Spillman’s big play capability, the Wolves entered thesecond half with one of their own playmakers rising to the occasionin sophomore linebacker Daniel Gawronski.
Gawronski a six-foot, 240-pound head-knocker, single handilybrought magic back to the Wolves, as he gathered in a Zbydniewskipass and returned it 18 yards for the Wolves first score. After aJimbo Thornton PAT the Wolves cut the Warrior lead to 14-7.
With momentum on their side the Co-Lin defense continued theiraggressive play as sophomore linebacker Kendrick Bournes greetedWarrior running back Ananias McBride with a punishing body shot onfirst down at the Wolves 25. That hit, along with some helmetshakers by freshmen Antwan Marsh and Myricks Cole, left theWarriors offense in limbo for the rest game.
But, when the Wolves offense had the ball, another limbo beganwith penalties and continued mistakes that help set up the Warriorslast offensive scoring plunge by Prine from three yards out.
“We didn’t have any ability to move the football with anyconsistency today,” said Co-Lin head coach David Cross. “We threwthe ball up for grabs several times and we made mistakes when wedidn’t need them. Basically, we were not well prepared, and thathurt us.”
The Wolves passing attack had its only bright spot of the day atthe 9:42 mark of the fourth quarter when Johnson connected withsophomore wideout Michael Loving from nine yards out. AfterThornton’s PAT, the Wolves trailed the Warriors by seven points,21-14.
The Co-Lin defense rose again as sophomore defensive backsMarcus Winn, Aaron Pitts, Sidney Wiley, and Odell Bradley deflectedseveral Warrior passing attempts. But when the Wolves got the ballback, one of the passes was deflected and taken the distance for aTD.
“The interception return was a killer,” said Gawronski. “Theiroffense played well, but their defense really hurt us at theend.”
The Wolves ran out the remaining minutes of the game with aseveral long passing plays and short runs that ended at the Warrior25. The Warriors deflected several Co-Lin passes, before finallyintercepting a third when the game ended.
“If we play at Pearl River like we did today, we won’t even havea chance.” said Cross. “We let our immaturity show today.”
Leading Cross’s Wolves on offense was Johnson with 198 yards on17 of 39 passing.
On the ground sophomore running back Darius Bingham led theWolves with nine carries for 19 yards.
On defense, Bournes led with 10 tackles. Gawronski finished witheight tackles and one interception returned for a touchdown.
For the Warriors, Prine led all rushers with 16 carries for 35yards and two touchdowns.
Zbydniewski, was 7-13-1 for 191 yards and a touchdown.
Leading the Warriors on defense, was sophomore defensive tackleKeith Curry with eight tackles, two sacks, and a blocked fieldgoal. Sophomore Buck Thames had four tackles, three deflections,and two interceptions.
The Warriors next visit the Eagles of Hinds Thursday for a SouthDivision showdown, while the Wolves travel to Poplarville to faceSouth Division foe Pearl River Saturday night.