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Co-Lin triumphs in South opener

DECATUR – Copiah-Lincoln running back Kelton Smith found himself in a bad place at the start of Thursday night’s game against East Central. His fumble on the first Co-Lin offensive play quickly put him on the bench. Smith would rebound from his early mistake to lead the Wolfpack with three rushing touchdowns in a 23-0 Co-Lin victory.

Smith, a sophomore from Wesson, was drawing his first career start. Smith was replacing an injured Van Lee. Lee, a sophomore from Mendenhall, was the leading rusher in the MACJC after two games.

An ugly first quarter saw Co-Lin (3-0) and East Central (0-3) swapping turnovers to start the game. Freshman place kicker Blanye Jones got Co-Lin on the board at the 13:37 mark of the second quarter with a 25 yard field goal.

Smith would put the first touchdown of the game on the board with a seven yard run. The point after attempt was unsuccessful and with 4:23 remaining in the half Co-Lin led 9-0.

Smith wasn’t the only Co-Lin player making his first start of the season on Thursday night. Injuries hit the Wolfpack hard after the win last week over Northwest. Co-Lin head coach Glenn Davis said he had six or seven starters in street clothes. Davis was proud of how his team responded to the lineup shuffle.

“I thought we had some guys step up and grow up tonight when we called on them,” said Davis. “Injuries happen in this game and good teams find the next guy up.”

The first drive of the second half was a statement maker for the Co-Lin offense. The Wolfpack marched 88 yards in eight plays and scored on Smith’s one yard touchdown run. Smith would add another one yard touchdown score with 10:51 left in the contest. He finished with 86 yards on 15 carries.

Davis was happy with the way his sophomore running back responded to the early benching. “Kelton fumbled the first play and we put DeLance Turner in at halfback. DeLance got banged up and I thought Kelton did a good job when we put him back out there,” said Davis.

Even without a number of starters, the Co-Lin defense had another strong showing. East Central only mustered 200 yards of offense. Sophomore cornerback Greg Sims twice picked off Warrior quarterback Anthony Triplett. Co-Lin signal caller Daniel Fitzwater was 12 for 22 and 181 yards.

Co-Lin returns to action on Sept. 19 in Wesson as they host the Hinds Eagles.