Many happy returns for Hinds in win over Mississippi Delta

Published 1:02 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

RAYMOND — There were plenty of happy returns for Hinds Community College Thursday night.

None was bigger than Maxie Graham’s 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown in overtime that lifted the Eagles to a 37-31 win over Mississippi Delta.

Graham’s scoop and score, which came after heavily-recruited defensive end Leon Mackey blew up an option play on Delta’s third play in the overtime period, was one of three long touchdown returns in the second half and overtime for the Eagles (3-1). Former Hinds AHS star Jeremy Lee returned a blocked field goal 91 yards for a third-quarter score. Deon Anthony had a 72-yard punt return for another TD that capped a wild three-score third quarter that turned a 14-3 halftime deficit into a 24-14 lead for Hinds (3-1).

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Graham, a speedy sophomore linebacker from Provine and Hinds’ leading tackler, credited the 6-foot-6 Mackey for creating the Eagles’ winning moment that saved homecoming night.

“Leon made the play,” Graham said. “They tried to run an option and Leon made a big play. All I did was scoop and run.”

Mackey, a Delaware native, said he thought the Trojans might run the weakside option in order to convert the third and 1 from the Eagles’ 16.

“I read the play and then made a play,” Mackey said. “And Maxie sent it to the crib.”

Hinds was outplayed in the first half, as the Trojans rolled up 158 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead 14-3. The Hinds defense was a completely different unit in the second half, as the Trojans had three three-and-outs and a blocked field goal attempt. A short punt from its own end zone gave Hinds great field position at the MDCC 30 and two plays later, Anthony Sheppard hit Dylan Davis on a 29-yard touchdown pass to start a string of scores and other bizarre plays over the next seven minutes.

A bad punt snap on the Trojans’ next series gave Hinds a chance to grab the lead from the Delta nine, but Sheppard’s ill-advised pass was intercepted and returned 60 yards by the Trojans. The Hinds defense forced Delta to settle for a 27-yard field goal but it was blocked by Lee, and then picked up and returned for an 81-yard score. The 10-point swing gave Hinds a 17-14 lead. Anthony’s 72-yard punt return with 3:41 left in the third quarter increased the Hinds lead to 24-14.

Delta (0-4) didn’t fold. They got a 73-yard TD run by Jarvis Smith to pull back within 24-21 just 21 seconds after Anthony’s score.

A fumble recovery by Hinds’ Eric Williams was converted into a 1-yard TD run by Matthew Willis with 12:56 left in regulation for a 31-21 lead.

Delta answered again with former Grenada quarterback Channing Martin tossing a 24-yard TD pass to James Ball with 7:12 left. The Eagles fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and that led to Ridge Rochell’s 35-yard field goal with 2:10 left to tie the game at 31.

Hinds got into field goal range on its last possession as Vicksburg’s Les Lemons grabbed a 18-yard pass to convert a third-and-long to the Delta 43 with 38 seconds left. Kyle Williams got a 43-yard attempt at the win, but Delta blocked it to send the game into overtime.

Hinds grabbed a 3-0 lead on a 17-yard field goal by Williams after driving 99 yards in 15 plays.

The early lead didn’t last. The Trojans, running out of an adjusted wing-T set, scored two second-quarter touchdowns to take control of the game at 14-3. The first scoring drive covered 65 yards in just seven plays and was capped by Martin’s 13-yard TD pass to Thornton.

Following Hinds’ second punt of the quarter, the Trojans marched 59 yards in 11 plays to go up 11.

Jarvis Smith got the score on a 6-yard TD run with 37 seconds left before the half to make it 14-3.