DECATUR, Miss. -- Despite missing the MACJC playoffs for the 2nd season in a row, 2018 was a step in the right direction for Ken Karcher and his ECCC Warriors.
After a 1-8 finish in 2017, East Central started the year 3-1 with just a four-point loss to a ranked Northwest Mississippi squad blemishing its resume. The Warriors put together impressive victories against Itawamba, Southwest, and Pearl River. Those wins catapulted EC back into the NJCAA rankings, and near the top of the MACJC South standings before a huge matchup with the number one ranked team in the country: East Mississippi.
The contest with EMCC was a back-and-forth battle that saw ECCC with a halftime lead and a slim lead over the Lions with under five minutes to play. However, the Lions survived thanks to a last-second field goal to keep their unbeaten season alive.
The Warriors struggled in losses to Co-Lin and Mississippi Gulf Coast, before rebounding with a huge road victory in Raymond against Hinds.
On Thursday, East Central drew the 7th ranked Jones Bobcats for sophomore night. The Warriors were outmatched as JC scored in all phases of the game in the first half. Jones started the night with consecutive rushing touchdowns from Deonte Edwards and Kalyn Grandberry to take a 14-0 lead on EC after a quarter. The Bobcats had possession of the ball for over 12 minutes of the first.
JC's special teams came through to start off the second quarter. East Central punter Steven Anderson's had a punt blocked inside the Warriors 20, which was scooped up by Lakevias Daniel for a short 5-yard score. A 28-yard Cristofer Thompson field goal would extend Jones' lead to 24.
Finally, it was the Bobcats defense adding to an already one-sided 2nd quarter with former Lamar Raider Davis Harrison returning a East Central fumble 52 yards for a score to push JC's advantage to 30 points. Another Warriors punt would be blocked then returned for a score to give Jones a 38-0 halftime lead on EC.
JC would then score on its first possession of the second half to extend its lead to 45 points. The Warriors would score 20 unanswered to keep the game within range, but would eventually fall to the Bobcats, 45-20.
Warriors end the season with a 4-5 mark and a 3-3 record in division play. Jones ends the season 8-1 with a perfect 7-0 record in division play. They will host Northwest in the first round of the MACJC playoffs next week.