Redemption time for East Central
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Nov. 9, 2001
You don't get a second chance in the world of sports very often, but the Warriors of East Central Community College get a second lease on their 2001 season Saturday when they face Mississippi Delta in the semifinals of the MACJC state football playoffs.
Kickoff in Moorhead is set for 1:30 p.m.
In their first meeting on Sept. 6, the Warriors squandered several scoring opportunities and eventually fell victim to a 71-yard drive that was capped by a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final two minutes to lose 14-7.
ECCC will be making its fifth playoff appearance in school history. The Warriors are 0-4 in previous attempts.
South Division champion Jones, 8-1, hosts Northwest Mississippi, 7-2, in the other semifinal.
The Warriors, 6-3, and Trojans, 8-1, have a lot in common. Delta ranks No. 1 in the state in rushing yardage, averaging 214.2. ECCC ranks second at 211.4. In total offense, Delta is No. 5, averaging 348.1, while the Warriors are No. 6, averaging 329.2.
Individually, ECCC's Patrick Prince has 180 carries for 992 yards to rank fourth in the state. Delta quarterback Berkedius Womack is No. 8 with an average of 68.4 yards on the ground. Womack also has completed 75-of-139 passes for 940 yards and 11 touchdowns and trails only Region 23 MVP Charlie Reeve of Pearl River in passing efficiency.
ECCC's Brian Zbydniewski is expected to return after missing last week's 26-16 playoff-clinching win over Pearl River with a separated shoulder. Zbydniewski has completed 83-of-174 passes for 993 yards and seven touchdowns.
Tavares Gideon of Delta is No. 4 in the state among receivers with 46 receptions for 640 yards and eight touchdowns. ECCC's Dontay Spillman is fifth with 37 catches for 595 yards and six touchdowns.
Defensively, the Trojans rank No. 3, allowing 225.3 yards per game, while ECCC falls to No. 12, giving up 307.9 yards per contest.
The Trojans excel in turnover margin, having 15 more takeaways than giveaways this fall. ECCC is plus-three in that category.
Delta's Marcus Buchanan has six interceptions with teammate Kendrick Woodard picking off four passes. Trojan defensive lineman Clifton Stalion has four fumble recoveries. ECCC's John Bibb has three.
Rowland Roberson leads Delta in tackles with 72 solo and 45 assists. Sylvester Peoples has 44 solo and 19 assists. Bibb leads the Warriors with 44 solo and 21 assists, while teammate Melvin Cotton has 40 solo and 21 assists.
ECCC's Danny Haynes is 21-of-24 in extra points and 7-of-13 in field goals. Delta's Jay Jones is 25-of-29 in PATs and 5-of-11 in field goals. Trojan punter Jason Hunter averages 37.6 yards on 35 punts with Stephens averaging 32.9 yards on 49 kicks for ECCC.
Delta's Derrick Farrow averages 16 yards on punt returns with Spillman averaging 7.4 for the Warriors. Willie Collins averages 25.4 yards per kickoff return for the Trojans.
Delta's only loss was to Copiah-Lincoln 48-34. ECCC defeated Co-Lin 28-14. ECCC also lost to Southwest (38-9) and Jones (40-36). Delta beat Southwest 21-14 and did not play Jones.
The game may be heard on WSSI 98.3-FM in Carthage.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him at 693-1551, ext. 3235.