Van Winkle’s late-game kick delivers Warriors win
With less than 10 seconds on the clock, East Central freshman Jaren Van Winkle kicked the winning field goal to put the Warriors on top, 17-14, over Pearl River on Thursday night in junior college football action.
Van Winkle’s 45-yard field goal sailed through the south endzone goal post. It was Van Winkle's first of the year and sealed the low-scoring bout. The Warriors now stand at 2-3 overall and, more importantly, to 2-1 in MACCC South Division play. The Wildcats of PRCC fall to 1-4, 0-3 on the year.
The first quarter was slow to start as the two teams' six opening drives combined for just 30 yards of offense. The Wildcats broke that streak as an interception set PRCC deep in the Warriors' territory at the 26-yard line. Just five plays later, PRCC quarterback Will Young punched it in from one yard. The kick was good and the Wildcats led 7-0.
Early in the second quarter Desmond Williams snagged his second interception and cut a PRCC drive short at the Warriors' 20-yard line. The Warriors followed with a grueling, 12-play drive that ate over eight minutes off the clock. The drive was highlighted by back-to-back big runs from Larry Wilson. It was capped off by a one-yard touchdown rush from former PRCC Wildcat turned ECCC Warrior, Llanes Dickerson. Van Winkle knocked in the extra point to tie the game at 7-7 with just 3:55 remaining in the half.
Two plays into the ensuing Pearl River possession Anthony Thomas got in on the turnover action as he posted an interception at the Wildcats' 25-yard line.
The Warriors were quick to strike as quarterback Caleb Parten connected with Dickerson who scored his second touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Williams kept ECCC's stellar, lockdown defense going as he picked off yet another pass — his third of the half — on the next drive which sent the teams to halftime with the Warriors on top, 14-7.
The third was another slow-paced quarter of offensive action as the teams paired up for 46-yards offensively, mostly due to strong effort defensive play from both teams.
In the fourth, PRCC's first possession started at the Warriors' 41-yard line. The great field position was once again short-lived as ball-hawking Williams picked up his fourth interception of the night on the third play from scrimmage. Williams passes ECCC's Juwon Hayes-Keyes in most interceptions in one game in the modern era as Hayes-Keyes hauled in three — also against Pearl River — back in 2016.
The Warriors did not capitalize on the turnover, and on the following Wildcat drive, Young knotted the game again, this time at 14-14, with another one-yard touchdown run with 7:30 left on the clock.
After back-to-back punts, the Warriors took over at their own 20-yard line with just 3:53 remaining in the contest.
The Warriors began a march down the field with a big reception from John Hilbert followed by rushes of 10, 10, and 13 yards from Wilson. The plays put the Warriors on PRCC's 28-yard line but in a fourth and four situation with less than 15 seconds remaining. Van Winkle entered the game and nailed the 45-yarder to lock in the 17-14 ECCC victory.
The Warriors were just outpaced by the Wildcats as PRCC posted 204 yards to ECCC's 201. Parten finished the night 6-for-20 through the air for 77 yards and one score. Wilson rushed a season-high 27 times for 92 yards, while Dickerson posted 12 yards and a score. Carlois Walker had 32 yards on four touches. Dickerson led receivers with 25 yards on one catch, while Wilson hauled in a team-high three, for 19 yards.
The Warrior defense shined throughout the night as Equandric Ross wrapped up a team-best 13 tackles, while Ke'Sean Johnson had seven. Ryan Whitfield (Noxapater) and Peyton Posey (Union) both posted one sack each in the contest. The secondary led the way for ECCC as the team posted five total interceptions, the most on record at ECCC in one contest, with four from Williams and another from Thomas, and three additional breakups.
The Warriors are on the road next Thursday as they travel to Perkinston to face the nationally-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs, who are also coming off a late-game win after defeating the Co-Lin Wolves 14-13 in Wesson.