Co-Lin outlasts Southwest Mississippi 29-21 in rivalry game

Published 9:10 pm Friday, September 29, 2023

Southwest Mississippi head football coach Clifton Collins had said prior to the game against Copiah-Lincoln that he viewed the pairing as just the next game on the schedule and not a rivalry game.

Rivalry or not, Co-Lin beat the Bears from Summit by a 29-21 final score Thursday in Wesson for a ninth straight victory in the series that dates back to the 1930s.

Both teams were starting quarterbacks who came into the season as the backups at the position. Southwest started former Tylertown and Parklane signal caller Amarien Jefferson on Thursday.

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The Bears came into the season with Jordan Mills as their starter at quarterback after the 6-foot-5 Arkansas native missed last season with a knee injury. Mills tossed two touchdowns in a 51-6 win to start the season over Mississippi Delta.

Mills left that game with a leg injury and Southwest went with freshman Quez Goss, a 5-foot-10 speedster who won two straight MHSAA 2A state titles leading Scott Central High School.

Goss started the next week, a 37-32 road loss at Coahoma, but left the game with an injury after throwing for 267 yards and two scores.

That meant Jefferson had to move from defensive back to quarterback, where he drew his first start last week in a 55-33 loss to Mississippi Gulf Coast.

For Co-Lin, two-year starter Devon Tott went down last week in a road loss at Jones College and starting in his place was true freshman signal caller Will Loy.

Southwest struck first to start the game on Thursday with a Tyler Reed rushing touchdown to go up 7-0 in the first quarter. Co-Lin responded on its following drive that was capped by an 18-yard touchdown run from freshman Trey Minor (Natchez High) to tie the game at 7-7.

A special team’s breakdown by Southwest on the next drive gave CLCC the ball on the Bear’s 21-yard line and that’s where Loy threw his first career touchdown.

A four-year starter for the Wesson Cobras, the throw on Thursday was similar to many of the 112-career touchdown passes Loy tossed during his high school career playing in H.L. Stone Stadium.

He lofted a 21-yard pass down the visitor sideline to the south endzone and sophomore receiver Jalen Smith (Jacksonville, Fla.) hauled it in without breaking stride to put CLCC up 14-7.

Minor added a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and Loy hit running back Johnnie Daniels (Crystal Springs) on a 31-yard scoring play out of the backfield to put his team ahead 29-7 with 7:29 remaining until halftime.

The Bears seized some momentum minutes later when Reed returned a blocked punt 17-yards for a touchdown to make the score 29-14, which is where it sat at halftime.

SMCC kept its run going with its first possession of the second half as Jefferson led a 10 play, 90-yard drive that took five minutes off the clock and ended with his 5-yard rushing touchdown to cut the Co-Lin advantage to 29-21 and that’s where the score would sit for the remainder of the night.

Jefferson and the Southwest offense got down to the CLCC 7-yard line in the final minute of the game, but the win was sealed when Co-Lin defensive back Jahron Manning (New Orleans) intercepted a pass in the back of the endzone with 44 seconds remaining.

Co-Lin finished with 264 yards of total offense as Loy went 17-of-23 for 193 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the win. He was sacked twice as Co-Lin held the ball for nearly 40 minutes of the 60-minute contest.

The Wolves had the punt that was blocked along with a field goal that was blocked and committed 10 penalties for 70 yards in the win. The CLCC defense picked off Jefferson three times as he went 19-of-37 passing for 165 yards. He also picked up 57 yards on 16 runs while scoring one rushing touchdown.

Smith led the Co-Lin receivers with nine catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Kaden Dukes (Petal) and Collin McGowen (Wesson) led the Wolves on defense with seven tackles each. Brookhaven High product Malachi Williams also had five tackles for CLCC.

Co-Lin moves to 3-1 with the win while Southwest is now 1-3 on the season. The next game for head coach Glenn Davis and his Wolves is a Saturday matchup with Coahoma on the road. Kickoff of that game on Oct. 7 is schedule for 5 p.m.

It will then be a quick turnaround for Co-Lin as they’ll travel to play at Mississippi Gulf Coast on Thursday, Cot. 12 in Perkinston.

In other MACCC games played on Thursday, Gulf Coast (4-0) rolled East Mississippi (2-2) in Scooba by a 42-17 final score, Jones College (3-1) used a strong ground game to eat up East Central (1-3) 38-7 in Decatur, Holmes (3-1) bounced back from a loss last week to dispatch Coahoma (1-3) 58-14, Northeast Mississippi (4-0) stayed unbeaten with a 40-0 victory over Mississippi Delta (1-3), Northwest Mississippi (3-1) denied Itawamba (0-4) its first victory by a 38-13 score and Hinds (2-2) won its second game in a row with a 24-21 overtime triumph against Pearl River (0-4).