Broncbusters hand Co-Lin last-second loss
BILOXI – Tyler Peterson’s 33-yard field goal with no time left on the clock sent a shockwave through both sides of Indian Stadium. His clutch kick lifted the Garden City, Kan. Broncbusters to a thrilling 31-28 Sunday victory over the Co-Lin Wolves in the Fifth Annual Mississippi Bowl.
Players from both teams lay sprawled on the ground in exhaustion, feeling the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat simultaneously. The Broncbusters (7-4) celebrated and embraced. They became the first non-Mississippi team to win the bowl. Co-Lin (9-3) suffered the losing scar in a state championship season.
In a wild finish, the Cinderella Wolves appeared to be a team of destiny. Quarterback Chandler Rogers hooked up with wide receiver Christian “Bubba” Keene on a slant pattern that was good for 34 yards and a touchdown with 41 seconds left in the game.
Owning a 29-28, Co-Lin coach Glenn Davis elected to try a 2-point conversion and a 3-point cushion. The pass from Rogers to Casey Gladney was short.
The Broncbusters produced a miracle comeback. Quarterback Nick Marshall still had some magic left in his arm after suffering a slight concussion. He had left the game after directing the Busters to Co-Lin’s 27-yard line with 3:02 left in the game.
Marshall (6-2, 205, so.) from Pineville, Ga. and a University of Georgia signee, returned too action with his team on its own 29-yard line and 36 seconds left to play.
On first down, Marshall launched a long pass downfield for wide receiver Rod Coleman that was good for 59 yards. In an acrobatic catch between two Co-Lin defenders, Coleman clutched the tipped pass as he fell on his back at Co-Lin’s 22-yard line.
Marshall hit running back Jamal Tyler with a short pass that gained 12 yards to Co-Lin’s 10 with four seconds left on the clock. An illegal procedure penalty pushed the ball back 5 yards but Peterson still split the uprights as time expired.
Co-Lin coach Glenn Davis expressed his disappointment after the game. The 5-foot tall runner-up trophy didn’t help his feelings.
“We disgraced Mississippi today,” said Davis. “We just didn’t make enough defensive plays. Our kids played hard but we haven’t tackled well the last three games,” referring to narrow state playoff wins over East Mississippi and Gulf Coast.
“Give Garden City credit,” said Davis. “Those guys made the plays. Number 7 played like a University of Georgia signee.”
Marshall was named the Most Valuable Offensive Player for his team, capping his MVP Status in the Kansas Jayhawk League. Teammate D’vonta Derricott (6-2, 215, fr.), a linebacker from Henrico, Va., was chosen GCCC’s MVP on defense.
Using his quickness and speed to dodge quarterback sacks and his rifle arm to hit receivers, Marshall was a real, live nightmare for Co-Lin. He rushed 15 times for 110 yards and 1 touchdown. He completed 14 of 27 passes for 288 yards and a threw 1 interception. It was picked off by defensive back Milton Griffin.
Rogers, a sophomore from Brookhaven, also played brilliantly and was named Co-Lin’s offensive MVP. He completed 30 of 51 passes for 364 yards and 4 touchdowns, 3 of them going to wide receiver Joe Craig, Jr., who caught 10 passes for 165 yards. Craig was recognized as the MACJC Player of the Year.
Asked about the late TD pass to Keene, his former teammate at Brookhaven Academy, Rogers said, “(GCCC) gave us the middle. We ran where they weren’t. Bubba was wide open.”
Rogers watched the trophy presentation after the game. “This loss is going to hurt for a while. I have all the respect for (Busters). They did an outstanding job.”
Defensive end Jerrell Jordan was named Co-Lin’s MVP on defense.
Co-Lin’s marching band provided the halftime entertainment, followed by competition among precision rifle teams from Keesler Air Force Base.
Offensively, Co-Lin was limited to a mere 37 yards rushing by GCCC’s rugged defense. Darius Guy, Co-Lin’s leading rusher (865 yards) this season, didn’t play in the game due to a turf toe injury suffered in the state championship test, Nov. 17.
GCCC head coach Jeff Tatum, a Delta State product, realized a measure of personal revenge against Co-Lin. His Georgia Military College team lost 21-0 to Co-Lin in the 2006 Golden Isles Bowl in Brunswick, Ga.
Tatum, in his second year at GCCC, has 8 players with Georgia roots on his squad. Tyler, who rushed 14 times for 88 yards, is from Rock Hill, S.C.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” said Davis. “He and I go a long way back. Larry Williams, Co-Lin’s defensive coordinator, played for me at Mississippi Delta.”
Tatum said Marshall was an exceptional player. “He is more than a great athlete. He is a leader and he knows the game. He has a calming effect on our team in stressful situations.”
The teams battled to a 14-14 halftime deadlock. Craig caught a pair of 12-yard TD tosses from Rogers. Nolan Long tacked on a pair of PAT’s and later hit a 29-yard field goal that put the Wolfpack up 17-14 with 10:26 left in the third quarter.
Marshall responded with a 63-yard scramble, which put GCCC ahead 21-17. A 23-yard TD pass from Rogers to Craig regained Co-Lin’s lead at 23-21. Tyler rumbled 24 yards for a 28-23 GCCC advantage.