By David Wheeler/Special to the Journal
FULTON – The public face that Itawamba Community College head coach Jon Williams put forth was as diplomatic as an intense person, passionate about his team, could be
“I’m not going to go there,” Williams said. “Bottom line, we did not generate enough offense in the red zone.”
What Williams would not talk about was an apparently incomplete forward pass that the Holmes Bulldogs picked up and returned 85 yards for a touchdown Thursday in the fourth quarter to help the visitors bag a 14-12 victory over the 12th-ranked Indians.
“Hopefully, we can look back on this and say this was one of the best things that happened to us,” Williams said. “This is a tough league, and it’s too early to get our heads down, and forecast doom and gloom.”
Any negatives from the loss overshadow an excellent effort by the Indians (3-1, 1-1) defense, which held the Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0) scoreless for the entirety of the contest.
But entering the fourth quarter, ICC only led Holmes 6-0. That is where opportunity knocked for the visitors.
After the ICC defense had forced its second three-and-out situation of the period, the Indians had the ball on its own 34-yard line. Holmes stuffed a running play up the middle, with the football popping out, and scooped up by Dahendrick Thompson who ran 31 yards for the score.
That stunning turnabout with 9 minutes, 18 seconds to play lifted Holmes to a 7-6 lead. That was just a firecracker compared to ICC’s next turnover bomb.
Two possessions later, ICC drove 62 yards to the Holmes 10-yard line in five plays. From there, Itawamba quarterback Griff Loftis dropped back to the 15-yard line, trying to hit a wide receiver screen at the 12-yard line.
The ball was off the hands of the Indian receiver, but was scooped up by Thompson, who streaked 85 yards for the score with 4:07 to play.
Not letting the situation dissuade them, the Indians then drove the ball 78 yards in seven plays, thanks in part to a 66-yard reception by Sanford Seay. Loftis found Adrian Brown for a 1-yard score with 1:22 left, but the two-point conversion attempt was intercepted.
“Our defense played about as well as you could play,” Williams said. “We can’t win football games turning the ball over.”
Kicker Tyler Jackson accounted for the other ICC scoring with field goals of 25 yards in the first quarter, and 24 yards in the third period.