Sluggish start dooms No. 19 Indians in loss to No. 3 Co-Lin
WESSON, MS – Coach Sean Cannon knew there would be some growing pains for the youthful ICC football team and that's what the first-year head coach saw in the first half of the Indians' 37-13 road loss to No. 3 Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
"Co-Lin is number three for a reason," said Cannon. "We made a lot of mistakes in the first half… but I was really pleased with our effort in the second half."
Freshman QB Kwadra Griggs (Greenwood) threw for 109 yards and a 53-yard touchdown pass to fellow freshman Grant Kimberlin (Olive Branch).
"I thought we did a pretty good job in his first collegiate game," Cannon said. "He over threw some balls, but it was really good to get him and all of our other freshmen some experience in critical situations."
Entering the game after freshman starter D'Andre Belton (Ridgeway, SC) left with an injury in the first half, Griggs completed 8-of-21 attempts in his collegiate debut.
"We told all three of our [quarterbacks] at the start of the season to be ready because they could be called on at any second," said Cannon. "We got all three guys some actions against one of the state's top defensive teams and now they know what they can expect each week in this league."
The No. 19 Indians (1-0, 0-0 MACJC North) only managed a 28-yard field goal from redshirt sophomore Tyler Jackson (Oxford) in the first half while the Wolves (1-0, 0-0 MACJC South) got a pair of rushing touchdowns from De'Lance Turner along with two Daniel Fitzwater touchdown passes to Donald Gray to take a 30-3 lead into the break.
"I challenged the guys to come out to win the second half and I feel like we made some plays that our guys realize that they could play with these guys," commented Cannon. "I think our confidence level shot way up after our kids started playing and figuring things out which was really good to see as a coach."
ICC closed the gap to 30-13 early in the fourth when Jackson connected on a 26-yard field goal, but Co-Lin answered with a third touchdown pass from Fitzwater to Gray to midway through the final frame to pull away for the 37-13 victory.
"We made some big plays in the second half and hopefully they will give us a spark moving into next week," Cannon said. "I really like how the guys never gave up and kept battling throughout the night."
Freshman running back Richard McQuarley (Meridian) accounted for 142 of the Indians' 284 yards of total offense with 84 yards on 15 carries and 58 yards on 6 catches.
"I think [McQuarley] really, really showed that he can be a special player for us with the way he ran the ball and the way when there wasn't things there he made a hole and found a way to make things happen," said Cannon.
Belton went 4-for-8 for 50 yards and had 9 carries for 25 yards while Kimberlin led the way with 60 yards on 2 catches.
Defensively, the Indians held the Wolves to 7 second-half points and were led on the night by sophomore Chance McNulty (Jackson) with 11 tackles (9 solo; 2 assists) while freshman Quin Tiggs (Tupelo) sparked the defense with a 25-yard interception return on Co-Lin's first possession of the first half.
"We play a lot of guys on defense and that was our goal for the first couple of games," said Cannon. "We want them to understand what it takes to play in a college game so we can be ready to go once North Division play starts."
ICC had 9 tackles for loss with sophomore Myles Harges (Grenada) leading the way with 2 sacks for a loss of 14 yards and freshman Quindarius Thagard (Luverne, AL) recording 4 tackles on the night with 3 going for a loss of 7 yards.
"The say you always make your biggest improvements from game one to game two," Cannon said. "The good things is we now have some game experiencing under our belts to help us get ready for another long trip against another very good football team."
The Indians will turn their attention to a Saturday night tussle with nationally-ranked Jones County Junior College in Ellisville. The Bobcats (1-0, 0-0 MACJC South) opened the season with a 28-20 road victory over Northwest Mississippi Community College (0-1, 0-0 MACJC North) last Thursday.
"Jones is an extremely tough place to play and we saw that firsthand last year," said Cannon. "Hopefully we can take advantage of a long week to be able to heal some bumps and bruises and better prepare for another really good football team."
Last season, the then fourth-ranked Bobcats defeated the Indians 49-21 in the semifinals of the playoffs. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. and the game can be heard on WAFM 95.7 FM (Amory) and watched on LetsGoICC.com starting at 6:40 p.m. with the Davis Ford Pregame Show.
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