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East Mississippi takes 10-6 win over Gulf Coast CC in thriller

By By Rocky Higginbotham / special to The Star
Sept. 12, 2003
SCOOBA It's unlikely many folks in the big crowd here at Sullivan-Windham Memorial Field appreciated what they witnessed in the late hours Thursday night at East Mississippi Community College.
After all, if veteran EMCC head football coach Tom Goode says he's never seen anything like what happened …
Visiting Gulf Coast Community College held the ball for the final 24 plays of their non-division showdown with EMCC, but the Lions came up with a marathon defensive stand to preserve a stunning 10-6 victory.
"I don't know how to explain it," Goode said amid his team's wild celebration on the field. "I've never seen anything like that happen. It was unbelievable."
EMCC got a field goal from former West Lauderdale standout Will Mosley just a couple minutes into the second half to put the Lions on top 10-6, and they nursed that lead the rest of the way.
Gulf Coast had a 13-play, 73-yard drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock, but the Bulldogs came away empty after EMCC blocked a 22-yard field goal attempt.
The next time the Dogs got the ball, the clock showed 12:07 remaining. And, with the aid of a couple of EMCC penalties and a grind-it-out offense, Gulf Coast held it the rest of the way, yet got turned away at the 1-yard line as time expired.
The first big penalty on the drive one of 13 on the night for EMCC was a dead-ball, personal foul call against the Lions after EMCC had stopped Gulf Coast on a third-and-30 play, a mistake which gave the Bulldogs an automatic first down.
And, last but not least, once Gulf Coast got inside the EMCC 10, the Lions lost starting defensive linemen on back-to-back plays and had an offsides penalty that drove Gulf Coast to the 4.
"Unbelievable," Goode said again. "And the thing is we had a third-and-30 and had the penalty that kept it going for them. That really hurt us.
"But the stand down here … I don't know what to say. I ain't never seen nothing like it. But I'm real proud of these guys and we're tickled to get this win."
Both teams left the contest with 1-1 records, but the win was especially sweet for an EMCC team which turned the ball over four times and gave up two defensive touchdowns in an embarrassing 38-0 loss to Jones last week.
This time, the Lions fell behind 3-0 when Gulf Coast's Christopher Symmes hit a 32-yard field goal early in the first quarter. A 44-yard pass from Dwain Bannister to Jason Morgan set up the kick.
EMCC got its first points of 2003 on the next-to-last play of the first quarter. After an interception by Bernard George put the Lions in business at the Gulf Coast 37, they took six plays to get an 11-yard touchdown pass from Deangelo Dantzler to Niko Edwards. Mosley's PAT kick made it 7-3 with 11 seconds left in the first quarter.
Gulf Coast got a 42-yard field goal from Symmes late in the second, making it a 7-6 game at the half.
The Bulldogs were stripped of the ball on the second-half kickoff, and EMCC's DeAndre Hoskins recovered at the Gulf Coast 18. John Henderson went 18 yards for an apparent touchdown on the next play, but the score was nullified due to a clip.
Two straight losses pushed the Lions back to the 35, and Mosley's 52-yard field goal attempt was blocked. But Gulf Coast was whistled for a penalty that gave Mosley another try from 42, and he had plenty of leg to make it 10-6 with 12:53 still on the third-quarter clock.
"That field goal ended up being big," Goode said. "We had a lot of big things happen for us."
When all was said and done, Gulf Coast held the ball for 40 plays and 22:42 of the second half, while EMCC had just eight plays and a time of possession of 7:18. But the Bulldogs came up empty on a blocked field goal late in the third quarter, setting the stage for the marathon drive that ended the game.
Gulf Coast had marched to the EMCC 41 before big sacks by ex-Kemper County standout Andre Wright, Zac Anderson and Ricky Mims put the Bulldogs in a hole.
But the personal foul call which came on a hit on a wide receiver who was overthrown on third-and-30 put Gulf Coast at the EMCC 45 with 5:09 remaining. On the 15th play of the drive, the Bulldogs converted a fourth down.
Gulf Coast faced a fourth-and-3 from the Lions' 15 and called a timeout, when they inserted running back Kalvin Woods under center. Woods kept on a naked bootleg and raced five yards to the 10 for a first down.
Two plays and the offsides penalty later, the Bulldogs had it second-and-goal from the 4, but 240-pound back Kevin Johnson was stacked up for a loss of a yard. Gulf Coast called its final time out with 18 seconds left facing a third-and-5, and Woods scrambled for a 4-yard gain to the 1.
Time then expired not that it would have mattered as Woods lined up and attempted to spike the ball on a fourth-and-goal.