How sweet it is to beat EMCC as Davis hits century mark at CLCC

Published 2:50 pm Friday, September 8, 2023

With an all-hands-on-deck mentality and a total team effort, the football Wolves at Copiah-Lincoln Community College gave head coach Glenn Davis career win number 100 on Thursday.

How and who Co-Lin beat made it even sweeter as a 29-yard field goal by kicker Brandon Gilliam (Warren Central) with two minutes left in the fourth quarter was the difference in a 23-20 win for Davis and his crew over the no. 8 ranked East Mississippi Lions.

“Our defense was really good in how we tackled, especially in the first and fourth quarter,” said Davis. “Our line protected the quarterback and gave us time to make plays and our special teams won us the game. It was a real team win.”

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In front of a packed H.L. “Hook” Stone Stadium, the Wolves raced out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

Gilliam kicked a 25-yard field goal to put CLCC ahead 3-0 with 6:43 left in the first.

Three minutes later, the Wolves were on the board again when sophomore wide receiver Jamarquez Melton (West Point) caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback DeVonn Tott (Mandeville, La.) to put the home team ahead 10-0.

As good as the first quarter was for Co-Lin, the second 15:00 minute period began with disaster.

Punting from deep in his own territory, Gilliam mishandled a snap and was taken down at the CLCC 10-yard line for a turnover on downs.

East Mississippi quarterback Ty Keyes found wide receiver Marcus Harris on a 10-yard scoring pass and just four plays into the second quarter, the Lions cut the lead to 10-7.

The next Co-Lin drive ended with Tott throwing an interception.

Three plays later, Keyes hit a 55-yard scoring bomb to Christian Wortham that gave the Lions a 14-10 advantage.

Keyes, a three-time state champion at Taylorsville High, celebrated the touchdown toss at midfield as the EMCC band blared its horns towards the suddenly dejected home side of Stone Stadium.

That East Mississippi lead held at 14-10 through halftime.

Last season in Scooba, the Wolves trailed 3-0 at the half before turnovers cost them the game in a 38-0 loss.

The second half on Thursday saw neither team score again until 30 seconds remained in the third quarter.

That’s when Gilliam knocked through his second field goal of the night, this one from 28-yards out, to make the game 14-13 in favor of the Lions.

On the first drive of the final quarter, Keyes went to the sideline grabbing his lower legs. A transfer from Southern Miss, he had injuries that limited him to just six career appearances over two seasons in Hattiesburg.

EMCC backup quarterback Jaquez Harris came in and the 6-foot-6 signal caller unleashed a 39-yard completion to jump started the Lion’s offense. Three plays later, running back Kiron Benhamin scored from the 6-yard line to put EMCC ahead 20-13.

There were four huge moments in the fourth quarter, with the most important being the game winning kick by Gilliam.

The second of those paramount plays was the block that Co-Lin unleashed on the PAT kick that would have put East Mississippi up by eight points following Benhamin’s touchdown.

Kevontay Wells, a 6-foot-3 lineman from Jackson (Forest Hill), blocked the kick and kept his team within seven points with the play.

The next of the game-changing moments came on the following Co-Lin possession.

Facing 3rd-and-Brookhaven, Tott used his feet to pick up the first down.

Seeing the defensive backs on the left side of the formation break deep with the receivers, Tott tucked the ball and ran up the home sideline. He kept from going out of bounds, avoided the closing linebackers and got 30 yards on the carry when his team was facing 3rd-and-21.

Tott then hit Melton for a 29-yard gain and found Western Kentucky transfer Dakota Thomas for a 21-yard pickup down to the EMCC 2-yard line.

Running back Johnnie Daniels (Crystal Springs) scored from there on the next play and after Gilliam booted through the PAT, Co-Lin tied the game at 20-20 with 9:22 left in regulation.

The next of those game-defining moments came on the subsequent kickoff.

Gilliam booted a ball that hooked towards the boundary line along the home sideline. EMCC return man Jaylon York could have watched it fly out and the Lions would have started their next drive on their own 35-yard line.

Instead, York reached up rather nonchalantly and snagged the ball out of the air as his momentum carried him out of bounds.

He almost looked surprised, as the closest official took the ball from him and marked the EMCC 10-yard line with his foot as the place where the Lions would begin possession.

EMCC did pick up a first down out to the 38-yard line, but a highlight tackle by freshman Malachi Williams (Brookhaven High) on third down put the Lions behind the chains and led to a punt.

Keyes flicked a pass out to Benjamin in the flats and Williams shot through a crease to tackle the East Mississippi running back for a 6-yard loss.

Tott and the Wolve’s offense got the ball back with 7:10 remaining in a tie game on their own 21-yard line.

On first down, Tott hit sophomore Jaylen Smith, the leading returning receiver on the team, with a 31-yard gain.

Ahead of preseason camp, Davis had said he felt like wide receiver would be an exceptionally deep position group.

That proved to be right on Thursday as five different receivers had at least one gain go for 19 or more yards.

Part of what allowed Tott the time to find open men downfield was the pocket created by his line.

Tott is listed at 6-foot-2, 183-pounds, but he looks closer to the size of 5-foot-10 former Heisman winner Bryce Young.

East Mississippi sent pressure from different areas, but Tott looked more composed and less harried on each possession. The McNeese State transfer finished 28-of-38 for 307 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also picked up 39 yards on five carries rushing the ball.

A play after Smith got 31-yards, freshman running back Dezmond Ray (Leflore County) gained another 18-yards and Co-Lin fans began to cheer louder as the Wolves reached the EMCC 30-yard line.

From there, CLCC milked the clock, protected the ball and moved closer towards field goal range.

When Gilliam’s winner went through the uprights, the Wolves capped a nine-play drive that spent just over five minutes of clock and covered 67 yards.

EMCC went back to their backup quarterback Harris on its final possession that started with 121 seconds left in the game.

Harris threw two straight incompletions and then was sacked for a three-yard loss by freshman linebacker Lakendrick James (Northside High).

He was again incomplete on 4th-and-13 from the East Mississippi 22-yard line and CLCC took over on downs to kneel out the win.

The Co-Lin defense played with a rugged edge all night as they harassed Keyes and dished out some big hits.

Defensive lineman Billy Pullen, a 2020 high school grad from Texas, was a problem for the Lions offensive line all night. Pullen finished with two sacks for 13 yards lost and five total tackles while also forcing two fumbles.

Sophomore defensive back Navarion Benson led the CLCC defense with nine total tackles.

In his 20 years at Co-Lin, Davis and his staff have worked hard to get the best players from this area to stay home and play for the Wolves.

In the 2012 MACCC state championship victory for Co-Lin, the game-winning pass was caught by a Loyd Star product (Marquis Haynes) thrown by a Brookhaven Academy quarterback (Chandler Rogers) that had the ball snapped to him by a former Brookhaven High Panther (Stone Underwood).

Sometimes they keep the guys they want and sometimes those guys decide to play at a rival school.

Thus, is life in the college game, but Co-Lin isn’t going down without putting up a fight in recruiting.

Benson, a product of Crystal Springs, is just one of those local guys who was a hero for Co-Lin on Thursday.

Daniels, another grad of Crystal Springs, fought for 73 hard yards on 16 carries. Bogue Chitto alum Eli Cupit had a strong night as the long snapper and Brookhaven Academy alum Tyler Fortenberry started and played well in his first career game at tight end.

Williams wasn’t the only freshman from BHS to see the field as offensive lineman Landon Smith saw action too.

It was one of those wins where it felt like the entire team did something at some point to make it happen.

Davis had said that to beat a team like the Lions, the defending MACC state champs and a perennial national contender, you’ve got to limit your mistakes.

Co-Lin wasn’t error free as they turned the ball over three times and had a special teams miscue that led to a score.

What the Wolves were was hungry as you the sideline stayed locked in throughout the game and the coaching staff kept them composed late.

For Davis, the emphasis has always been that Co-Lin is a blue-collar program. His recruiting pitch goes something like, come to Wesson and focus on the books and the ball, because what else is there to do here.

You might not remember, but the Co-Lin football program wasn’t in a great spot when Davis took over ahead of the 2004 season.

David Poinsett had gone 5-13 over the previous two seasons and Davis, who’d previously worked at C-L as an assistant for Phil Broome, had a task ahead of him that required some heavy lifting.

The cafeteria wasn’t open during the summer back then and when the Co-Lin coaches brought in players to work out in the summer while taking classes, they had to feed them.

Davis and his wife Minta and his assistants would divide the roster up and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and huge pots of spaghetti to feed the players, often spending their own money to meet the needs of those student-athletes.

It makes sense though, as Davis cut his coaching teeth working for former Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill, a player’s coach if there ever was one.

In Davis, you see a man who knows what it feels like to have someone say, “you changed my life with your belief in me.” It gives one a high that can’t be matched.

When the school last gathered football alums from the Davis era for a reunion, they packed the Thames Center with proud alums from the last two decades. The size of the crowd was a reflection of how beloved the ole ball coach is by his former players.

“I can’t even count the calls and messages and texts and emails that I’ve gotten since we won last night,” said Davis on Friday, his voice hoarse after the opener. “It means a lot to have all those guys that want to keep up with you after the years and the pride they have in the program. Last night was one I won’t forget.”

Some of those alums have gone on to big NFL paydays, like Nick Fairley and Montez Sweat.

The majority have moved on to life outside of football as husbands and fathers and entrepreneurs and truck drivers and welders and a plethora of other professions.

Some of them have become coaches, like his son Micah. Micah Davis was a standout signal caller at CLCC as a player and is in his seventh-year coaching quarterbacks at the school.

Speaking of other careers, if Glenn Davis wasn’t a football coach, he’d make one heck of a farmer.

The program he’s built at Co-Lin over the years is a testament to his work ethic as his pickup truck is a fixture that stays parked outside his office in Pitts Field House throughout the calendar year.

It’s also a testament to the administrators who’ve supported him over the last twenty years and to the players that have caught the touchdowns and made the tackles in wins and losses.

It’s only fitting that career win no. 100 for Davis came with a yeomen-like effort from the whole Wolf Pack under the Thursday night lights in Wesson.


Cliff Furr is the sports editor at The Daily Leader. He can be reached via email at