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No. 4 Bobcats reach state championship game with 49-21 victory over Itawamba

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By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – An early defensive onslaught keyed the No. 4 Jones County Junior College Bobcats to victory here Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field in the opening round of the MACJC playoffs.

JCJC returned three interceptions for touchdowns in the first quarter – two by Jamal Lucas and one by Charles Lewis – and went on to whip the Itawamba Community College Indians, 49-21.

That means the Bobcats will travel to 2nd-ranked East Mississippi Community College at 2 p.m. on Nov. 9 for the MACJC championship. The 10-0 Lions rallied from a 14-7 halftime deficit and went on to defeat Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College 45-28 on Saturday.

D'Andre Jackson also had a pass interception for JCJC, while Ben Benison recovered a fumble.

Thamaz Taylor paced the JCJC rushing attack with 56 yards on four carries. Qua Boyd rushed for a pair of scores.

Quarterback Steven Swindle was 13-of-28 for 188 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Wide receiver Dylan Bossier had four catches for 48 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown.

ICC running back Tobias Lofton carried 32 times for 107 yards and a touchdown.

The Indians end the year at 6-4.

Itawamba had a chance to take the lead in the first quarter.

The Indians drove from their 21 to the Bobcat 22 in five plays. But facing a third and 5, quarterback Griff Loftis threw into the middle of the field and was picked off by Lucas at the 12.

Lucas, a freshman from Hoover, Ala., and the Bobcats' leading tackler, returned the interception 88 yards for the score. Grant McLaurin's extra point made it 7-0 with 11:54 left in the first quarter.

On JCJC's second offensive possession, the Bobcats drove 74 yards in eight plays for a score. Justin Harris scored on a 3-yard run and McLaurin's extra point made it 14-0 with 9:01 left in the first quarter.

Two possessions later, ICC's Darius White picked off a Swindle pass and the Indians were in business at their own 49-yard line.

But on the very next play, Lucas picked off Loftis and returned it 52 yards for another touchdown. McLaurin's extra point made it 21-0 with 5:28 left in the first quarter.

Two possessions later, Loftis was picked off by Lewis, who returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown. McLaurin's extra point gave JCJC a 28-0 lead with 3:54 still to play in the first quarter.

The Bobcats added to the lead with a 43-yard, eight-play drive. Short-yardage quarterback Qua Boyd came in and scored from 1-yard away. McLaurin's PAT gave JCJC a 35-0 lead with 11:27 left in the first half.

On JCJC's next possession, the Bobcats marched 57 yards in five plays for the score. Boyd scored from 3 yards away – one play after he lined up as a wide receiver and caught a 22-yard pass from Swindle. McLaurin's kick made it 42-0 with 8:49 still to play in the first half.

JCJC's final touchdown came on their first possession of the second half.

The Bobcats drove 75 yards in seven plays with Bossier catching a 14-yard touchdown pass from Swindle. McLaurin's kick made it 49-0 with 10:50 left in the third quarter.

Itawamba got on the board when Lofton capped a 43-yard, nine-play drive and scored from a yard out with 7:53 left in the game. Jeb Millender's extra point made it 49-7.

The ICC defense came up with a touchdown of its own when the Bobcats fumbled the ball in their own end zone and Jeff Johnson recovered for a touchdown. Millender's kick made it 49-14 with 3:50 remaining.

ICC recovered another Bobcat fumble at the JCJC 29 with just over a minute to play. Three plays later, Anfernee Brand scored on a 24-yard run with :35 left in the game. Millender added the extra point.