FULTON – Brad Henderson made the most of his first start at quarterback Saturday for East Mississippi.
The freshman from Starkville passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two more to lead the 10th-ranked Lions to a 28-6 MACJC North Division victory against Itawamba at Lambert Stadium.
Henderson got the call when the East Mississippi staff decided to sideline starter Randall Mackey, who is suffering from nagging knee and ankle injuries.
Mackey “was too banged up to play,” said Henderson, who completed 26 of 36 passes for 195 yards and rushed for 58 more. “I thought I missed a few calls, but I was glad we came out with a victory.”
MacKey has passed for 2,100 yards and 21 touchdowns in seven games for the Lions.
The Lions (7-1, 5-0) defeated Northeast last week to clinch the North Division championship and a host berth in the first round of the state playoffs.
ICC (2-6, 1-4) went with a different look at quarterback, too, inserting wide receiver Ty Ferrell into the lineup in the “Wildcat” formation. He played most of the first half in place of starter Bret Jefcoat.
Ferrell rushed for 51 yards on 19 carries and scored the Indians’ lone touchdown.
“When you play a potent offense you try to shorten the game,” ICC coach Jeff Terrill said of the Indians’ scheme with Ferrell. “You hope to keep it close until the fourth quarter and have a shot.”
Knocking on the door
Terrill saw his offense fail to convert inside the East Mississippi 15-yard line three times.
“Give credit to East Mississippi,” he said. “They had a solid defense and did a great job in the red zone.”
Henderson’s two first-quarter TD passes went to Lance Lewis and covered 23 and 30 yards. The 30-yarder came on the final play of the first half and gave East Mississippi a 28-6 halftime lead. Lewis made a finger-tip grab between two defenders and just got a foot down.
“I saw (Lewis) and the two defenders,” Henderson said. “I saw his gloves go up and I knew he had it. That was a momentum boost. It helped put them away.”
Henderson had two scoring runs of 4 and 5 yards.
ICC’s lone touchdown came on quarterback Ferrell’s 3-yard run in the first quarter.
A blocked punt by Jerhushua Williams gave the ball to the Indians at the Lions’ 3-yard line to start the possession.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal