Thornton’s 46-yard field goal lifts Co-Lin over Delta

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 9, 2002

WESSON – Co-Lin placekicker Jimbo Thornton tied his personalrecord Thursday night with a 46-yard field goal. Thornton’smilestone couldn’t have come at a better time, splitting theuprights with just 26 seconds left to play and lifting the Wolvesto a thrilling 24-21 upset victory over the Mississippi DeltaCommunity College Trojans.

Thornton’s winner ignited a wild celebration in Stone Stadiumwhich climaxed a see-saw season opener. Co-Lin had bolted to a 21-0lead midway through the third quarter before the Trojans scored 3unanswered touchdowns in an 8-minute span, gaining a 21-21 deadlockwith 14:53 left to play.

“I hit a 46-yarder my junior year in high school and this onetied my record,” said Thornton, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound sophomorefrom Florence. “Any thing inside the 50 I think I can knock itthrough.”

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Freshman Billy Williams of Brookhaven served as holder andfreshman Chase Magee of Brookhaven (Academy) served as the deepsnapper. The offensive line provided solid blocking.

“I just thought about getting a clean kick,” said Thornton.

Delta, ranked No. 25 in the NJCAA Preseason Poll, finished 9-2last year, losing to Jones County in the state championship game.It was the second year in a row for the Trojans to lose to Co-Linin Stone Stadium.

David Poinsett made a successful debut as Co-Lin’s head coach.He was pleased with his team’s effort against a nationally rankedopponent.

“Overall, the big thing is that we didn’t give up when (Delta)scored 21. We were fortunate to have guys step up and make bigplays. We overcame adversity and beat a quality football teamtonight.”

The Trojans had regained the momentum when quarterback RonnieKing scrambled 10 yards up the middle and Jay Jones kicked thetying extra point with 14:53 left in the game. Jones missed a46-yard field goal with 6:45 left in the game and Co-Lin took overat its 28-yard line.

Co-Lin fumbled away a touchdown opportunity at Delta’s 17-yardline when fullback Adam Smith was tackled after an 8-yard gain with2:17 left to play. The Wolves forced a Trojan punt and regainedpossession with 1:14 left on the clock.

Quarterback Bruce Petty hooked up with tight end Fred Perkins ona 30-yard gainer to Delta’s 28. Three straight incomplete passesmade Poinsett call on Thornton for the winning field goalattempt.

“This was my first college game and I enjoyed it,” said Petty.”I told coach I wanted the opportunity to get us in good fieldposition. I told Jimbo, ‘I put you in field position,’ when I wascoming off the field.”

Petty, a freshman from Marrero, La., threw a 3-yard touchdownpass to wide receiver Josh Chatman in the first quarter. The 7-0lead was maintained through the remainder of the first half asDelta suffered 2 turnovers.

In the third quarter, freshman Jonathan McLaurin scampered 16yards on a punt return to Delta’s 30. Petty completed a 15-yardpass to McLaurin on first down. A 3-yard completion to Corey Payneto the 17 was followed by a 15-yard personal foul penalty againstDelta, giving Co-Lin first-and-goal at the 2.

On third down, tailback Shermaine Vaughn plunged the final 2yards. Thornton’s PAT made it 14-0 with 10:36 remaining in thethird quarter.

Another 15-yard penalty against Delta gave Co-Lin a first downat Delta’s 40. Petty scrambled for 21 yards on first down andVaughn followed with a 14-yard run to the 5. Smith went the final 5yards on the next play but drew a 15-yard penalty for spiking theball in the end zone.

Thornton connected from long distance on the PAT and it was21-zip with 7:49 left in the third frame.

“We continually killed ourselves all night,” said Delta coachJim Southward. “We gave them field position with our kicking gameand we made too many mistakes. The penalties hurt us.”

Staring at a 21-0 deficit, Southward’s Trojans regrouped. Aidedby a sparkling 36-yard kickoff return by Dontrell Wells, theymarched 64 yards to paydirt in 9 plays. Tailback Noah Ingram plowedthe final 3 yards over right tackle and it was 21-7.

On their next possession, King broke 53 yards up the middle ofthe field for a TD and it was 21-14.

A fumble at Co-Lin’s 24 by Petty was recovered by Larry McNealand set up a short scoring drive. King ran the option to his rightside and dove across the goal line. The PAT kick by Jones cappedthe comeback.

After Thornton connected on the winning field goal, Co-Lindefensive back Darius Cox sealed the victory by intercepting Kingat the Co-Lin 43 with 11 seconds left on the clock.

“The big key for us will be how much we can improve before oursecond game (Sept. 12, versus Coahoma),” said Poinsett. “I saw somebig things on offense and defense. We need to work harder onconditioning and mental toughness.”