East Central Community College defender Jeremy Pyles (25) brings down running back Chris Ingram (30) during the season opener for both teams Thursday.
East Central Community College defender Jeremy Pyles (25) brings down running back Chris Ingram (30) during the season opener for both teams Thursday.
Quarterback Jacori Taylor's 60-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Hakeem Parker was the offensive highlight for the East Central Community Warriors who fell 40-7 to nationally ranked Itawamba Community College in the season opener for both teams Thursday.

The non-division matchup also began the Ken Karcher era as ECCC's head football coach.

Next up for the Warriors are the long-time rival East Mississippi Community College Lions, who defeated Pearl River Community College 49-6 Thursday night on the Poplarville campus. EMCC is ranked sixth in the pre-season NJCAA poll.

The Warriors/Lions battle is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5 on the Scooba campus.

Taylor's screen pass to Parker came with 10 minutes left in third-quarter action and narrowed the Itawamba advantage at 27-7.

Austin Franklin of Petal added the PAT. Taylor is a freshman from Early County High School in Blakely, Ga., and Parker is a sophomore from Joseph S. Clark High School in New Orleans. Franklin is also a sophomore and a former standout at Petal High School.

The No. 16 Indians were led by quarterback Griff Loftis who passed for 331 yards and four scores for the easy victory. Jon Williams, a former Warrior assistant, is in his fourth season as head coach.

Itawamba took a 3-0 lead with 5:19 left in first-period action on a 20-yard field goal from Emmitt Dendy of Houston.

The Indians stretched their lead to 10-0 followed by Loftis' 25-yard TD strike to wide receiver Shante Rogers of Itawamba Agricultural High School with 18 seconds left in the period. Dendy added the first of his four PATs on the night.

Loftis continued his scoring success in the second quarter, as he connected with wide receiver Chance McNulty of Germantown on a 16-yard TD strike with 14:03 left followed by an eight-yard scoring pass play to tight end Archie Dennard of Hollandale Simmons with 45 seconds remaining. before halftime.

Dendy also contributed to second-quarter scoring as he connected on a 24-yard field goal with 8:13 left.

Loftis's fourth TD pass came in the third stanza - a 30-yard strike to wide receiver Jaquez McMillian of Southaven with 2:28 remaining, which gave ICC a 33-7 lead.

Indian running back Chris Ingram of Southaven scored the game's final points on his 10-yard dash with 11:30 remaining.