Itawamba Community College offensive coordinator Jeff Carter has been telling anyone who cares to listen that his guys “will be fun to watch this year.” The near capacity crowd that showed up for the season opener at Lambert Stadium against 14th ranked Jones County would agree.
Freshman quarterback Bret Jefcoat of Fulton returned home and enjoyed a night to remember in his first collegiate game as he engineered scoring drives in three of his first four series and ICC’s defense took it from there to post a 21-7 win over the visiting Bobcats. The transfer from Southern Miss was 5-6 through the air for 151 yards and two touchdowns after the Indians first two series and by the end of the quarter, he was 9-10 for 203 yards.
“I was so impressed with the way Bret took control out there,” said Carter, who had to start five different quarterbacks in 2008. “He’s a tough kid who made some great throws and our receivers know what to do with it once they catch it.”
ICC’s Darius Slay, who was a Mississippi State signee, returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown that was called back due to a penalty. But Jefcoat and the offense responded by driving the ball 86 yards, all in the air, and scored on a 71 yard scoring strike to Shannon’s William Green.
“William is one of our playmakers and he made a great run after the catch to give us that early lead,” said Jefcoat, who finished the night 17-26 for 282 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and also carried the ball six times for another 27 yards as he picked up several key first downs on the ground late in the game to keep Jones from getting the ball back.
Itawamba’s defense also received high praise from its head coach after returning only three starters from last year’s squad. The Indians, under new defensive coordinator Kenny Jackson, registered seven sacks, created three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) and held a Bobcats offense, that averaged 37 points a game a season ago, to only one touchdown and 277 yards of total offense.
“What a performance out of our defense,” said Terrill, whose program won its 28th game in its last 39 regular season games. “Jones County has a lot of weapons on offense and for us to do that against that bunch says a lot about our players and coaches.”
Terrill added his entire team will have to bring “that same kind of intensity” on Thursday night, when the Indians travel to face another nationally-ranked team, Gulf Coast. The Bulldogs, who were ranked number one nationally in one of the pre-season polls, are the two-time defending state champions.
“This victory was extremely satisfying for us after losing to Jones four times in the last three years, but we’ve got to get ready for another big-time challenge,” said Terrill, whose program has now started the season with a win in four of the last five seasons. “It will be another one of those classic Mississippi juco battles.”
You can listen to Thursday night’s matchup beginning at 6:40 p.m. on FM95 (95.7) and also on the College Web site, www.iccms.edu. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.