Early turnovers proved costly as the Hawks fell to Mississippi College, 30-29, Saturday afternoon.
Shorter looked to be on the verge of its first win in two seasons, as they came back from a 20-point deficit to take a 29-27 lead with just over seven minutes to play in the game. But, the Choctaws came back and edged the visitors on a 25-yard field goal as time expired, for the 30-29 score.
MC (1-8, 1-6 GSC) jumped out to an early lead, scoring on their opening drive to make it a 7-0 game, and added two field goals in the first quarter to make it a 13-0 game moving into the second frame.
From there, the Hawks looked to be getting things on track, as they outgained the home team 209-61 in the quarter. Their first score of the game came midway through the second frame on a 54-yard reception from Kartez Carr cutting the lead in half, 13-7. And, after a second MC touchdown of the day made it 20-7, Shorter had two huge drives end in heartbreak. First, as Joseph Ross fumbled on the MC 10, giving the Choctaws the ball with just under three minutes to go in the half. The Hawks then forced a three and out by MC, and drove the ball to the one - on a 36-yard reception from Lewis Hayes - with nine seconds remaining, but Tyler Pullum fumbled the snap. Leaving the Hawks scoreless for their second possession in a row.
The Choctaws opened the scoring in the third to make it a 27-7 game. Only to have the Hawks turn in one of their most impressive halves of the season as they fought back to take the lead. Shorter got things started just before the end of the third as Carr collected his second touchdown of the game on a 20-yard reception; the Hawks then converted the 2-point play to make it 27-15 heading into the fourth.
In the final quarter, Shorter (0-10, 0-7 GSC) took advantage of two MC mistakes to put themselves in position to score. The first points of the quarter came as Shorter forced the Choctaws to punt, setting up a seven play, 96-yard drive; capped off by a 40-yard reception from Ross. Then, John Jarrard tallied his second interception of the season, to put the Hawks in scoring positon from the MC18. From there, Pullum found Ross for a second time in the game to put the Hawks on top, after a successful 2-point conversion, 29-27.
And, Shorter looked to tack on more, as Kareem Taylor forced a fumble, giving the Hawks the ball on the MC32, setting up a field goal attempt later in the quarter; but the attempt was wide from Brady Hammel to keep the score at 29-27 with three minutes to play. And, on the final possession of the game, the Choctaws drove 72 yards to set up the late game heroics from Greg Nickles - who notched his third field goal of the game, with a 25-yard tally as time expired.
The Hawks led in nearly every offensive category, turning in 25 first downs, and collecting 553 total yards - 442 in the air from Pullum. While, MC finished with 19 first downs on 414 yards of offense - 151 passing, 263 rushing. The difference however, came as the Choctaws held the Hawks to 2-6 in red-zone opportunities; while completing all five of their chances in the red-zone.
Pullum, once again, bettered his record for yards in a game - passing for 442 yards on 25-41 passing. While, also becoming the Hawks all-time leader in passing yards. The sophomore now has 2,908 career yards - bettering Eric Dodson’s four-year mark of 2,814. He also added the records for touchdown passes in a game with Saturday’s four, and touchdowns in a season with a total of 12, so far, and needs one to tie Dodson’s career record of 18.
The Hawks had three players finish with over 100 receiving yards. Led by Hayes with 141 on seven receptions. Carr added 127 yards on five catches with two touchdowns, and Ross chipped in with 108 yards on six catches with a pair of scores.
B.J. McCoy led the run game with 83 yards on 19 carries; whereas, Lemuel Cobbs added 22 yards on five carries. Both averaged 4.4 yards per carry.
On defense, Taylor led the charge with 13 tackles. Austin Porter added 11, and both, Jararrd and Kevin Knight, recorded eight apiece.
MC used three quarterbacks in the game, with Ty Jobe leading the way with 101 yards on 9-14 passing. Tiberias Lampkin posted a team high 110 yards rushing, to go along with 103 from Job in the game. While, Darius Young led the receiving corps with 50 yards on three catches with a touchdown. Colton Magee and Justin Stewart finished with seven tackles each to lead the defense.
The Hawks will look to keep the momentum going next week, as host Valdosta State for a 1:30pm start from Barron Stadium.