By The Associated Press
BOONEVILLE – This was a contest Jon Williams and the Itawamba Community College Indians really wanted.
And in the first half Saturday, the Indians took advantage of every opportunity against the Northeast Tigers.
The Indians put four touchdowns in the books in the first half on two Northeast turnovers and two special teams plays, eventually coasting to a 36-15 victory over their Northeast Mississippi rival.
“This is our biggest game of the year,” Williams said. “In the flow of the game, I thought each phase played well in the first half.
“The offense scored, the defense scored, and special teams scored. I was displeased with the second half because I think we let them off the hook.
“But any time you beat Northeast, it’s good.”
What was good was the way ICC (5-3, 3-2) capitalized on field position and opportunities.
On Northeast’s first punt attempt of the contest, the snap was botched, giving Itawamba the ball at the 4-yard line. The first play after was Mooreville’s Griff Loftis lofting a pass to the back of the end zone that Rashad Pargo elevated for, hauling in the touchdown.
The second Northeast possession was a pass interception by Brandon Smith, that the Aberdeen sophomore returned 44 yards for a score.
Then on the first play of the second quarter, ICC recovered a Northeast fumble. Four plays later, Loftis found Samford Seay on a wide receiver screen. The freshman from Georgia weaved through defense, turning the play into a 43-yard score.
And finally in the first half, a blocked punt gave the Indians excellent position at the Northeast 28. Four plays later, Loftis tossed the football to Demarious Howard from Calhoun City for a 13-yard score.
“We haven’t been consistent all year,” Northeast head coach Ricky Smither said. “We didn’t produce enough offense to make anything happen.”
Northeast (2-6, 1-5) did have a couple of breaks go its way, beginning with a fumbled punt by the Indians. Brian Walker scooped up the loose ball and raced 27 yards for the touchdown to cut into the deficit just before half at 29-8.
In the second half, ICC scored points on two safeties, and a 22-yard field goal by Tyler Jackson from Lafayette.
Northeast added a 5-yard pass from Matt Lipham to Shuntez Smith in the fourth quarter.
Northeast ends its season on Thursday at Mississippi Delta, while ICC hosts No. 4 East Mississippi on Saturday.