SOOBA - What a way to make a debut.
Former West Point standout Justin Cox made a good first impression Thursday night swiping three interceptions, including a game saver with seconds remaining, to help East Mississippi topple Mississippi Gulf Coast 34-30 in the season-opener for both teams.
It was a special night for the Lions who were unveiling the new $4.7 million, 5,000-seat Sullivan-Windham Field.
But for Cox it was definitely memorable. He finished with three of the Lions four picks on defense in a game that lived up to the hype.
“We were very fortunate to walk out of here with a victory," Lions head coach Buddy Stephens said. "We gave them every opportunity to win the football game."
Needing a touchdown to win, MGCC went for the potential game winner. Cox picked off Bulldogs quarterback Raymond Cotton inside the 10, however it was negated because of holding penalty giving the visitors another shot and Cox another chance to finish the job. Cotton's pass was intercepted for the fourth time when Cox snatched it in the corner of the endzone with 15 seconds remaining.
EMCC took advantage of several Bulldog miscues in the first half jumping out to 20-0 lead.
Former Green Wave Jeremy Cannon stripped Cotton and ran the ball 50-yards the other way setting up a 7-yard run by freshman QB Bo Wallace.
A few possessions later, sophomore linebacker JaMichael Myles picked off Cotton's pass in the end zone for the Lions setting up the second touchdown of the game. An 83-yard drive was capped off with a pass and catch from Wallace to Hamp Glover.
On the very next drive for the visitors, Cox snagged his first interception of the game. The Lions made it a three possession game after Wallace connected with Alventray Tarleton on a 15-yard score.
Wallace, a transfer from Arkansas State University, was 30-of-46 for 383 yards. He also threw three touchdowns while running two.
The game quickly switched gears, as the Bulldogs, the reining MACJC state champs would mount a surprising comeback in the second quarter. Gulf Coast rallied three straight scores to even the ball game 20-20 at the half.
Cotton's two yard run put the Bulldogs on the board for the first time followed by James Gillum 10-yard run. A botched extra-point attempt made it 20-13. Cotton found Cade Amacker from 2-yards out to tie the game.
Cotton was 16-of-28 for 139 yards, but sputtered with four interceptions.
The Lions came out hot in the second half, driving 76-yards for the score and a 27-20 lead after Wallace ran a quarterback keeper. Cotton found the endzone after a one-yard sneak to keep the game at a stand still.
Rodney Davis gave the Lions the lead once again late in the third quarter with a 24 yard reception from Wallace. Davis finished with five catches for a team-best 103 yards.
The Bulldogs settled for a field goal in the final quarter.
The Lions will hit the road the next weeks, first stop at Hinds September 8. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.View more articles in: