By Shawn Wansley
Jones Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – The 4th-rated Jones College Bobcats knew they could not turn the ball over and be successful vs. No. 1 East Mississippi in the MACJC championship game.
Unfortunately, the Bobcats had six turnovers in East Mississippi territory and dropped a heartbreaking 19-14 decision to the Lions here on a cold, breezy, sunny Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field.
The Bobcats, 9-2, are in still in line to participate in an NJCAA bowl game. That will be announced on Tuesday.
The Lions, 11-0, are expected to be invited to the NJCAA championship game on Nov. 29 at Pittsburg State (Kansas). That will also be announced on Tuesday.
Saturday’s championship contest was a bruising defensive contest for the most part.
But Jones hurt itself with a fumble at the EMCC 5-yard line in the first quarter, an interception at the Lion 15 in the second quarter and a fumble at the Lion 43 in the third quarter. The Bobcats fumbled again at the Lion 14 in the fourth quarter and their last two drives ended in interceptions at the EMCC 33 and 39, respectively.
The Bobcats had numerous opportunities, starting with the game’s first possession.
The Jones’ defense forced a punt, but Lions’ punter Josh Smith dropped the snap, tried to pick it up and punt it, but John David Rutherford (St. Stanislaus) blocked the kick. The Bobcats were in business at the EMCC 34, but could not move and had to punt it away.
On the Bobcats’ second possession of the game, they moved from their own 44 to the EMCC 20. But a fumble after a 15-yard reception by Donte Edwards (Mobile, Alabama) was recovered by the Lions and EMCC took over at its own 5.
Early in the second quarter, the Bobcats started a drive at their own 49 and drove to the EMCC 35. But the drive stalled and Cristofer Thompson’s (Adams County Christian School) 52-yard field goal attempt was off to the right.
On Jones’ next possession, they moved from their own 47 to the Lion 25. But on first and 10, quarterback Stetson Bennett’s (Blackshear, Georgia) pass was intercepted by JaQuez Akins at the 15. He returned it 65 yards to the Bobcat 25.
Two plays later, quarterback TyQuan Ulmer hit wide receiver Dontario Drummond for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Smith’s extra point made it 7-0 with 7:52 left in the first half.
Down by a touchdown, the Bobcats came out sharp in the third quarter.
Jones took the second half kickoff and moved 65 yards in 13 plays. Bennett scored on a 10-yard keeper around right end and Thompson’s extra point tied it at 7-7 with 9:52 showing.
The Bobcats began its next drive at its own 40.
Jones moved to the EMCC 49, but on the next play, Bennett found Johnquarise Patterson (Pearl) on a short pass, but he fumbled and EMCC came up with the ball at its own 43.
The Bobcats held and would regain possession at the Lion 49.
On the next play, Bennett connected with Gabe Douglas on a 49-yard touchdown pass. Thompson’s extra point gave Jones a 14-7 lead with 4:14 left in the third quarter.
But the Lions answered quickly.
Ulmer would toss a short pass to Drummond, who would take it the rest of the way to complete a 73-yard touchdown play to quickly end a 75-yard, two-play drive. The Lions were called for illegal participation on the extra point and the kick was moved back five yards. Smith missed the extra point off to the right and Jones led 14-13 with 3:31 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bobcats would take the kickoff and drive from its 28 to the Lion 35 where the drive stalled. Punter Greg Hayden’s (Vicksburg) kick was downed at the 4-yard line.
The Lions moved for a pair of first downs before they were forced to punt. Another partially blocked kick by Rutherford gave Jones’ field possession at the EMCC 37.
Jones moved quickly to the Lions’ 20, but on the next play Bennett fumbled on a keeper and EMCC recovered at their own 14.
Three plays later, Deon McIntosh – a Notre Dame transfer – took a handoff and raced 71 yards for a touchdown. The pass for two points failed, but the Lions led 19-14 with 8:27 remaining in the game.
The Bobcats would drive from their 32 to the Lion 35 on the next possession. Facing a 4thand 13, Jones went with a fake punt. Backup quarterback Fred Barnum (Warren Central) lined up as the punter and completed a pass to Nataurean Watts (Petal), but it came up two yards short of the first down.
Jones forced a ‘3 and out’ and took over at its own 41 with 2:34 left after an EMCC punt.
But on third and 10, Bennett’s pass was picked off by Jacob Anderson at the Lions’ 33 with 2:17 to play.
The Bobcats forced another punt and would take over at their own 26 with 25.7 seconds left.
But Anderson would come up with another interception at his own 39.
The Lions took a knee and the game was over.
Douglas finished with three catches for 87 yards and a score, while Immanuel Jones (Amory) had seven receptions for 67 yards. Kalyn Grandberry (Memphis, Tennessee) rushed 17 times for 62 yards. Bennett was 17-of-31 for 215 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Defensively, linebacker Daylen Gill (Louisville) had 10 tackles, one sack and four tackles for loss. End Chei Hill (Miami, Florida) had eight tackles, three sacks and four TFLs. He now has 36 TFLs, which leads the nation. Linebacker Nick Anderson (Vicksburg) had five tackles. End Lamarcus Keyes (West Jones) had three tackles, one sack and one TFL. Linebacker Davis Harrison (Lamar School) had three tackles and 2 ½ TFLs and tackle DaShawn Crawford (Bay Springs) had three tackles. Tackle Qvaius Currie (Seminary) had one sack and one TFL, end Devonte Toles (Pass Christian) had one TFL and tackle James Williams (Jackson Callaway) had ½ TFL.