ECCC opens league play with win
HARD PUSHn ECCC's Patrick Prince is forced out of bounds by Gulf Coast's Jason McBeath Thursday.Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Sept. 21, 2001
DECATUR The East Central Community College Warriors began South Division play Thursday night with a 29-17 win over Mississippi Gulf Coast.
ECCC jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter only to have the Bulldogs run off 17 straight points to take a 17-14 advantage with 5:09 to go in the third period.
The Warriors answered the Bulldogs' challenge seven plays later when Ramon Williams took an option pitch from Brian Zbydniewski and raced 48 yards to the end zone. Danny Haynes' extra point gave ECCC a 21-17 lead with 1:47 remaining in the third period and this time the Warriors wouldn't give it back.
It didn't take long for the Warriors to pad their lead as Patrick Prince got loose on a 62-yard scoring run with 12:48 to go in the game. An unintentional two-point conversion run by Dee Hornesburger gave ECCC a 29-17 lead.
The Warriors had a chance to score again after blocking a punt and recovering at the Gulf Coast 18. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Bulldogs put the ball at the 9, but Prince fumbled the ball back on the next play.
Gulf Coast recovered an ECCC lateral at the Warrior 29 and drove to the 1 in the game's final five minutes. On third down, Kevin Johnson was stuffed for a two-yard loss and on fourth down Bulldog quarterback James Nettles fumbled into the end zone where ECCC's Melvin Cotton recovered for a touchback.
The Warriors started hot, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter in jumping out to a 14-0 lead. The first came on an 8-yard toss from Zbydniewski to Dontay Spillman with 7:13 remaining in the opening period. The scoring drive was set up by a fumble recovery at the ECCC 48.
The Warriors' second touchdown came on a 20-yard reverse by Marcus Lee with four minutes to go in the first quarter. Haynes added his second extra point.
Spillman, a sophomore wide receiver, had two big blocks on the drive. The first sprang Prince for a 46-yard run with the second getting Lee into the end zone.
Gulf Coast threatened midway through the second quarter only to have the Warriors block a 39-yard field goal try by Brett Walton.
The Bulldogs found the end zone with 18 seconds to go before intermission on a 15-yard pass from Nettles to Derick Powe. Walton's PAT made it 14-7 at the break.
Walton added a 34-yard field goal to pull the Bulldogs to within 14-10 with 10:54 left in the third quarter following a 13-yard punt by ECCC's Kevin Stephens.
Johnson then gave the Bulldogs their only lead when he broke free from a tackle at the line of scrimmage and raced 60 yards for a touchdown with 5:09 remaining in the third period.
The Warriors responded with a 64-yard scoring drive capped by Williams' 48-yard touchdown run to improve to 1-0 in the division and 2-1 overall. Gulf Coast fell to 0-1 and 1-2.
ECCC had 283 total yards with 230 coming on 39 rushes. Prince gained 148 yards on 19 carries with Williams adding 62 yards on four rushes. Zbydniewski completed 7-of-15 passes for 53 yards.
Gulf Coast had 296 total yards with 197 coming on 45 rushes. Johnson picked up 116 yards on 13 carries.
The Warriors host Holmes next Thursday.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com or call him at 693-1551 ext. 3234.