With a never quit attitude, the Mississippi Delta Community College Trojans found a way to come out on top last week against Holmes Community College, 46-42 at Jim Randall Stadium. The Trojans, now 3-5 overall and 3-3 in conference, get ready for the season finale with a trip south to take on Pearl River Community College (2-6 overall, 0-4 conference) on Thursday.
Holmes dropped to 3-5 overall and 3-2 in the North but had entered Saturday's contest tied for first place in the North division. The offensive output of 46 points and 487 total yards of offense – 302 passing, 185 rushing –were both season highs for MDCC.
“The first half, we played better than what the score (35-17) indicated,” MDCC Head Coach Jeff Tatum said. “They ran a kickoff back and we fumbled and they recovered in the end zone but other than that I didn’t think we could play much better.”
The Trojan coaches made adjustments at halftime and kept their team locked in mentally and shut down the vaunted rushing and scoring attack of Holmes limiting them to only seven second half points while the Trojan offense kicked into high gear churning out 29.
“We talked about it at half. We’re down two scores and those two big plays are the only difference in the game and we’re going to find those in the second half and find a way to win,” Coach Tatum said.
The Trojan coaches had faith in their game plan that both the offense and defense executed quite well in the second half as well.
“The big question was how focused and disciplined we were going to be during the game? And in the first half we were pretty disciplined and in the second half, we were really disciplined.”
Coach Tatum crowed about his defensive coaches and players that held the normally high scoring rushing attack to only one touchdown in the second half.
“It was a great complement to our game plan and our kids executing the game plan and staying focused. They did their job,” he said. “That’s why we were successful.”
Even with the injury to the Trojan starting quarterback, Jordan Gilleylen came off the bench ready to play.
“You preach all the time about ‘you’ve got to trust the rest of your teammates and you do your job.’ They did that and they had discipline and you tell guys every day who aren’t starting that ‘you’re one play away from playing.’ And Jordan was. He threw for over 200 yards (284). You’ve got to give him a lot of credit for being patient and waiting on his time and he made the most of his opportunity.”
Gilleylen had four touchdowns and one interception but the head coach took credit for the miscue.
“That was bad play calling by the offensive coordinator/head coach. Asking him to throw a long play action pass and he had to make a tough throw and he got hit as he threw it. It was just an unfortunate circumstance but you have to give him credit for bouncing back from that.”
When the Trojans had narrowed the margin late in the game, Coach Tatum asked Jordan which hash mark he wanted to spot the ball on for the two-point conversion.
The backup quarterback had no opinion for the spot.
“He said, ‘Coach, you know we’re going to execute, just put the ball down,’” Coach Tatum said.
The backed-up bravado set the stage for the come from behind win big play. With 1:18 left in the game and out of timeouts, the Trojans faced a fourth and five at their own 18-yard line. Their third down play was a quick pass to Lebarron Jones but he couldn’t find the handle. Coach Tatum called his number again.
“This time he caught it, made the corner miss and outran the safety for the touchdown,” he said. “Our main thing was to pick up the first down but we tell our wide receivers and other offensive players to not only make the play but look to make the big play.”
The big play pulled out the 46-42 win setting up the season finale – a trip to Poplarville to face Pearl River Community College in a non-conference battle. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.
“Pearl River has played well all year they just haven’t been able to win,” he said. “They beat Itawamba the first game of the season. They played the number one team in the nation last week in Gulf Coast and gave Gulf Coast all they wanted.”
Another tough matchup in the country’s toughest JUCO league.