The Northeast Mississippi Community College and Copiah-Lincoln Community College football teams put on another classic defensive showcase.
The Tigers and Wolves combined for only 310 yards of offense. But Co-Lin used a lengthy touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter to secure a 14-7 triumph over Northeast on Thursday, September 5 at H.L. Stone Stadium.
It was the 14th time in 25 all-time meetings in this series that the final margin of victory was two touchdowns or less. The 21-point total was also the third lowest in a single game between these two squads.
The Tigers, who are receiving votes in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) rankings, limited the Wolves to just 130 yards. It was Co-Lin’s smallest offensive output in at least seven seasons.
The 13th-ranked Wolves accounted for a majority of their offense on only one play when quarterback Danny Clark connected with Malik Heath for a 55-yard score with 9:07 remaining in the contest.
Take that play out and Northeast (1-1) held Co-Lin to 75 yards on its 45 other plays from scrimmage. The Wolves still averaged just 2.8 yards per play even with the long touchdown factored in.
“Hats off to the defensive coaches and players. They played lights out,” said Tigers headman Greg Davis. “They went out there and played their tail off. They stepped up to the challenge and gave great effort.”
Northeast’s defense forced Co-Lin (2-0) to go 0 for 12 on third down opportunities as well. The Wolves, who had only nine net rushing yards, picked up just five first downs on the entire evening.
Kedarius Shell-Dixon paced the Tigers’ efforts on that side of the pigskin with a team-best seven tackles, including five solo stops. He also registered his inaugural sack at the collegiate level.
“We came out here and all played as a team,” Shell-Dixon said. “We all came together in the summer and knew what we wanted to do. We’ve just got to keep going and keep pushing.”
DaMarion Parham followed with six takedowns, two tackles for loss and a sack. Isaiah Hunt and Terry Joiner added a sack apiece for the Tigers while Jamarcus Smith blocked a pair of Co-Lin extra point tries.
The Wolves took an early 2-0 advantage when a bad snap on a Northeast punt attempt sailed out of the back of the end zone for a safety. That score remained intact through the halftime break.
The Tigers looked to take their first lead less than five minutes into the third quarter after Cedrick Wilder, Jr., recovered his second fumble off a muffed punt by Co-Lin. But an 86-yard pick-six by Tyrus Wheat spoiled Northeast’s threat and extended the advantage to 8-0 in favor of the Wolves.
Northeast broke into the scoring column at the 13:25 mark of the final period when Jack Mangel found a wide-open Carson Banks for an eight-yard touchdown. It capped a solid 10-play, 57-yard drive and cut the Tigers’ deficit to 8-7.
It was the first touchdown in a Northeast uniform for Mangel, who kept the possession alive three plays before the score with a 16-yard completion to Hayden Brice on third down, and the second of Banks’ career.
“It’s a big confidence boost,” said Banks. “I looked and everybody was running towards the sidelines. There was a big open space so I stopped. Jack threw it and I was just hoping it was going to get there.”
Mangel targeted eight different wideouts and was 21 of 33 through the air for 128 yards in his second start behind center for the Tigers. Brice was his top target with five catches for 33 yards.
Shawn Dalton Weatherbee was Northeast’s leading rusher for the second consecutive outing. He tied Co-Lin’s JJ Jernighan for a game-best 44 yards on the ground in 12 touches.
“The number one thing I don’t have to correct right now is effort and that’s a blessing,” Davis said. “The bottom line is we just have a young group out there. We really ultimately ran out of gas.”
The Tigers begin the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division portion of their schedule on Thursday, September 12 by visiting Coahoma Community College. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at James E. Miller Stadium in Clarksdale.
CUTLINE (PHOTO: Chuck Barnes/JucoWeekly.org)
Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Kedarius Shell-Dixon (#16) forces a fumble on a fielded punt by Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Treshon Cooper that Cedrick Wilder, Jr., (#8) eventually recovers. The Tigers fell in a defensive slugfest to Co-Lin by a 14-7 score on Thursday, September 5 in Wesson.