Go Johnnie, go: Daniels paces Co-Lin with four scores in OT victory

Published 11:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2023

No other running back in the Mississippi Community Colleges Conference (MACCC) has run for more yards this season than Copiah-Lincoln sophomore Johnnie Daniels.

On Thursday in Wesson, Daniels scored four times on the ground, including the game-winner in overtime to carry Co-Lin to a 40-34 victory.

The win moves CLCC to 7-1 on the season. The Wolves can wrap up a MACCC playoff spot next week with a win in the regular season finale at Hinds.

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East Central (3-5) looked game from the jump as they drove down the field quickly to grab a 6-0 lead on the opening possession of the game. The Warriors are led by a rookie head coach Jonathan Webster and have a dynamic playmaker in 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback Chris Tucker.

Tucker finished with 239 yards on 22-of-35 passing while also rushing for 41 yards.

Tucker was helping ECCC move the ball like it was rush hour as he ran for 14-yard touchdown on that first drive and then dropped a dime of a touchdown pass from 19-yards later in the first half.

East Central led 14-10 at halftime and then scored on the first possession of the third quarter when Tucker tossed another touchdown pass to make it a 20-10 lead for the visitors from Decatur. 

That 10-point lead put a temporary sour feeling on what had been a great day full of activities in Wesson.

Earlier in the day on Thursday, Co-Lin had inducted six into its latest Sports Hall of Fame class. That group included Kyle Beall (Baseball, 2002), Daniele Knight (Softball, 2010), Dequan Menzie, Sr. (Football, 2010), Chasity Cubie (Basketball 1998), Thomas Matthews (Basketball, 1988) and Amy Russell Riley (Tennis, 1987).

With the weather feeling somewhat fall-ish, it looked like East Central was ready to spoil the great homecoming vibes as the Warriors quick touchdown to start the third quarter came soon after the crowning of 2023 Homecoming Queen T’Myah Denson.

It only took one play for Daniels to cut that lead as he took a first down handoff 64-yards for a touchdown that made the score 20-13.

Later in the third quarter, Daniels hit another big gain that went for a 42-yard touchdown run that put Co-Lin up 27-20.

The game was far, far from over though as on the night it had six lead changes and was tied twice.

Tied at 27-27, East Central took the lead back on a 67-yard touchdown run by Devontae Causey. That put the Warriors up 34-27 with 9:17 left in the game as Causey finished with 149 yards on 22 carries.

Co-Lin responded with an old-school, bow-up, this is how you don’t lose homecoming type of drive. It covered 75 yards in 6 minutes and 23 seconds.

The game might have ended on that possession as the Wolves faced 4th-and-8 at the ECCC 36-yard line, but sophomore quarterback DeVon Tott hooked up with Jamarquez Melton for a 14-yard reception.

Tott then found sophomore receiver Richard Mays on a 17-yard gain down to the 5-yard line. May was in the news earlier in the week after giving his verbal commitment to Jackson State University. An alum of Ridgeland High, Mays played last year at Southern Miss.

Daniels ran in for a 5-yard score with 2:46 remaining in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 34-34.

Co-Lin got within field goal range for kicker Brandon Gilliam as time expired, but the clock went to zeros before the ball could be snapped. Gilliam finished the night 2-of-2 on field goal attempts and 4-of-4 on PAT kicks.

Tott’s helmet came off on the second to last play of the game and he was replaced by freshman Will Loy. Loy completed a throw to Daniels for a 19-gain down to the EC 15-yard line, but that’s when time ran out.

The Co-Lin defense swarmed East Central on its opening possession of overtime.

Sophomore defensive lineman Billy Pullen, as grown of a full grown man that the Wolves have had on the line since the days of Montez Sweat, finished with six tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and a pass breakup.

After that, you knew the Co-Lin offense was about to channel Ed McMahon and say, “here’s Johnnie!”

Daniels ran for 19-yards on first down and then the final six to win the game a play later.

On the night, Daniels finished with 159 yards on 13 carries as he scored four touchdowns and averaged 12.2 yards per carry. Tott completed 20-of-33 passes for 176 yards and also ran for 40 yards.

In other MACCC action played on Thursday night, Northwest Mississippi topped Holmes 36-28, Northeast Mississippi beat Coahoma 30-17, East Mississippi got past Itawamba 31-17 and Pearl River picked up its first win of the season with a 35-14 victory over the Southwest Mississippi Bears.

The top two teams in each MACCC division get a playoff spot. Jones College leads the South Division with a 5-0 record. Co-Lin is 4-1, with a loss to Jones. Gulf Coast is 3-1 and will play Hinds on Saturday at home. Gulf Coast has lost to Co-Lin and plays against Jones next week in the finale.

Co-Lin will kick off at Hinds on Thursday with a 6:30 p.m. start in a huge regular season finale.