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Late touchdown drive keeps Wolfpack perfect

SUMMIT – Co-Lin offensive right guard Fred Tillman and histeammates were on a do-or-die mission Thursday night in HurstStadium. The unbeaten Wolfpack trailed archrival SouthwestMississippi Community College 24-20 with 8:42 left in thegame.

Co-Lin responded with a textbook, 10-play, 79-yard touchdown drive,climaxed by quarterback Percy Turner passing to wide receiverMichael Berry who made a leaping catch in the corner of the endzone. The Wolfpack, ranked No. 14 in the nation, escaped with ahard-fought, 27-24 triumph over the upset-minded Bears.

“God was with us on that drive,” said Tillman, a powerful 6-foot-1,285-pound freshman from Bogue Chitto. “We stepped up and everybodydid their assignment. We executed.”

Tillman was recruited by both schools but plotted his future withCo-Lin. Several of his high school classmates attendSouthwest.

“I feel good about being 5-0,” said Tillman, smiling in the coolnight air. “Beating them will give me bragging rights.”

Co-Lin climbed to 3-0 in the South Division and maintained a shareof first place. Southwest (2-3, 0-3) was saddled with a bitterloss. The Bears had one last chance to respond when they took overat their 24-yard line with 1:18 left to play.

Southwest quarterback Mardavian Martin moved his team to the Co-Lin27 where receiver Alfred Franklin tried to pitch the ball to ateammate after making the catch. Co-Lin’s Cordario McLain grabbedthe football and fell to the ground with just three seconds left onthe scoreboard clock and preserved the win.

“Southwest really got after us in the first half,” said Co-Lin headcoach Glenn Davis. “Our team stepped up in the second half. We grewup on offense tonight on that last drive.”

Co-Lin running back Titus Mobley had to leave the game with anankle injury early in the third quarter but Montrell Conner tookover, pounding Southwest’s defense with his bruising runs. On thewinning drive Conner gained 30 yards on four carries.

Conner (6-2, 220), a late transfer from Mississippi State, finishedthe game with 18 carries for 101 yards, all in the secondhalf.

“I’m real proud of our team’s effort and Montrell really playedwell,” said Davis. “I’m proud we have him. He was bouncing offpeople tonight.”

A large crowd watched Southwest take a 14-10 halftime lead andexpand it to 17-10 in the third quarter on a 24-yard field goal byBrandon Thomas. Dazman Ivory went 3 yards for the first Southwesttouchdown and Martin broke loose on a 67-yard dash for the secondTD.

Co-Lin countered with a 25-yard pass from Turner to Jeffery Collinsand a 22-yard Justin Danise field goal.

The Wolves moved ahead 20-17 when Turner hooked up with LaVoydJames for a 29-yard TD connection. James made the catch at the5-yard line and made a spinning move across the goal line.

Martin broke free again down the sideline, racing 66 yards to paydirt for a 24-20 Southwest lead. A sophomore from Millbrook, Ala.,Martin finished with 17 rushes for 150 yards. He completed 7 of 12passes for 80 yards and was intercepted once by DehendretCollins.

Turner completed 18 of 33 passes for 210 yards and was interceptedonce by Darius Buck. Fred Fuller caught 5 passes for 73 yards.Jeffery Collins had 4 receptions for 53 yards.

Asked about the winning TD drive, Turner recalled a conversationwith Davis. “Coach said it was on my shoulders. The big boysstepped up and Berry made a big catch.”

Turner displayed his speed and quickness on the winning drive. Heappeared to be trapped behind the line of scrimmage but he escapedand scrambled 20 yards to the Bears’ 17-yard line.

Tomblike silence filled the Southwest field house after the game ashead coach Charles Anthony sat in his office and reviewed thedisappointing setback. “We missed tackles, especially on third downwhen their quarterback (Turner) took off after we had himtrapped.

“Number 9 (Conner) ran the ball hard and we didn’t tackle him,”Anthony continued. “I’m tired of giving people battles. We have towin one of them.”