East Central’s Seth Smith gets emotional after win over Jeff Davis
East Central coach Seth Smith likes to say "The sky is the limit" with his football team this season.
On Friday night, fans got a glimpse of just how special the Hornets can be this season.
The East Central football team put an impressive notch in its belt against non-region competition Friday night, thumping a talented Jefferson Davis County team 31-7.
Smith was emotional as he addressed his team after a win over a program that was created following the merger of Class 2A powerhouse Bassfield and Prentiss. Bassfield won five of the last eight Class 2A state titles.
"I can't really explain how proud I am," Smith said. "I'm emotional for this reason - We started 4 ½ years ago and people didn't think that was possible. You just beat a team that's won five state championships in (eight) years."
East Central improved to 3-0 and handed Jeff Davis (3-1) its first loss of the season after rolling off three stellar wins over Harrison Central, Collins and Wayne County.
East Central senior quarterback Rylee Brown and his senior tight end Brad Cumbest accounted for entire passing game Friday night. Brown completed 6-of-8 passes for 93 yards, all to the 6-foot-6, 245-pound Cumbest.
Cumbest had one touchdown reception on a 9-yard toss from Brown to give East Central a 14-7 lead that it would not relinquish late in the first quarter.
"That was our game plan this week, just throw it up and let him go get it," Brown said. "He's the best receiver on the Coast and in the state."
The East Central defense again proved up to the task, forcing four turnovers by the Jaguars.
Smith gave credit to his defensive staff after the game.
"I need to go hug their neck right now because it's incredible how hard they've got those kids playing," Smith said. "We've got special players. Special players can make coaches look pretty good. We've very blessed right now."
Arguably the most impressive play of the game on defense for East Central was an athletic interception by senior linebacker Kody Humphrey.
East Central senior running back Tony Brown didn't have his biggest game of the season, but he still finished with 24 carries for 158 yards and a touchdown.
"Tony had a nice game, but we're not used to him having nice games," Smith said. "We're used to him having great games. I thought he ran hard, but our expectation for him is even better. He'll come back this week and get even better. Tony is special."
Jeff Davis started out hot, getting a 50-yard kickoff return by Ronald Baker to begin the game. Six plays later, Jafharis McKines punched it in the end zone from 3 yards out to give the Jaguars a 7-0 lead with 9:17 left in the first quarter.
East Central moved deep into Jeff Davis territory on its following drive thanks to a 57-yard run by Tony Brown, but that big play was negated when East Central turned it over on downs at the Jeff Davis 2.
Shortly thereafter, East Central forced a Jeff Davis fumble and the Hornets recovered at JD's 1 yard line.
On the next snap, Louis Morgan punched it in from 1 yard out to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
East Central forced another Jeff Davis fumble on the next possession at the JD 30, setting up an eventual 9-yard touchdown toss from Rylee Brown to Brad Cumbest for a 14-7 lead with 40.2 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Hornets pushed their lead to 21-7 at the 4:13 mark of the second quarter when Ryan Evans ran it in the end zone with ease from 7 yards out.
Humphrey's interception set up a 46-yard field goal by Branson Davis to give the Hornets a 24-7 advantage at the half.
The last score of the game came from Tony Brown in the third quarter on a 1-yard run.
East Central will host Hazlehurst at 7 p.m. on Friday in the last non-region contest of the season.