Art Lawler Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Two storms showed up at Norris Field for Saturday afternoon’s East Central University Homecoming Game.
Divine intervention took care of one of them after a 20-minute lightning delay.
East Central University took care of the other one before the Southwest Nazarene Crimson Storm could so much as work up a gust.
After losing three-in-a-row to the top teams in the GAC, junior running back Jo Jo Snell treated Homecoming fans — which included the 1993 NAIA National Championship team — to a dazzling half of football.
That 40-7 halftime cushion was impressive, even to Coach Tim McCarty.
The Tigers put their game into neutral after the half, settled for a couple of field goals and patty-caked Southern Nazarene away from the end zone well enough for 46-14 victory, the Storm winning the second half, 7-6.
The homecoming crowd was free to renew old acquaintances for the last 30 minutes of playing clock as action slowed on the field.
McCarty was disappointed with some of his players, whom he felt, began playing the scoreboard in the second half. “They just weren’t paying attention to the details after they got the early lead,” he said.
“I am glad we got a win on the day our national championship team was here to see it,” McCarty said. He just wanted to see a little more second-half intensity.
Overall, his team managed to get four more turnovers from its opponent for the second game in a row and the third time in five games this season.
Before that first half gets too deep into the history books, it might be good to remember that Snell scored three first half touchdowns.
The Tigers scored on their first two possessions, then again early in the second when LaQuan Harper caught a five- yard pass from Spencer Bond to make it 20-0. Dominique Massingill scored on a 10- yard run to up the score to 26-0, Caleb Holley caught a 31-yard pass from Bond to run the score to 33-7.
Snell did the rest of the scoring, running in from the two and 10-yard lines for the two first-quarter touchdowns and then taking the 50 yarder for his Beep Beep Special past stunned Crimson Storm defenders. It ended with him crossing the goal line 11 seconds before the half.
He also caught three passes from quarterback Spencer Bond for 90 yards in the first half alone.
McCarty says Jo Jo has a motor. More like a jet engine to be precise.
As for Bond, who had 251 yards throwing in the first half, including his three touchdowns, the sophomore quarterback finished with 19 completions in 27 attempts.
In the first half he was 11 of 13. He could do no wrong.
Unfortunately, Bond threw one bad pass in the game, and it ended a promising drive for the Tigers early in the third quarter.
“I felt like it was a trend setter for the second half,” McCarty said. “We had a 40-7 lead and that’s when some of our guys started playing the clock. I don’t care what the scoreboard says. I want us to play hard on every down.”
In the fourth quarter, Tiger reserves took the field, including backup quarterback Austin Crisler. He had trouble getting the snap from center but did complete one pass for 35 yards.
So together, the two quarterbacks produced 161 yards of passing, even in the less-eventful second half.
Another positive is that eight different receivers caught passes from ECU quarterbacks in the game for a total of 412 passing yards on 20 catches.
The leading receiver was senior Lindsey Anderson, who had three catches for 114 yards, including a 56-yarder after a spectacular scramble by Bond.
Caleb Holley and LaQuan Harper also caught TD passes from Bond.
The Tigers, playing with star defensive back Qumain Black in street clothes because of a high ankle sprain, nonetheless held the Bethany school to just seven points until the final 6:11 on the clock.
Placekicker Trevor Hunt kept the Tigers from being blanked in the second half with field goals of 28 and 33 yards. Hunt also missed on two straight extra points earlier in the game before finishing 4-of-6 on PATs for the night.
Defensively, the Tigers gave up just 105 yards rushing on 50 SNU attempts, and held SNU quarterback Dylan Terry of Konawa to 172 yards on 17- of 29 completions and an interception.
ECU amassed 491 yards of total offense to 277 for SNU and managed to get off 79 offensive plays.
Penalties hampered ECU early, as they have in past games, but for the second-straight week, the Tigers wound up with less than 100 yards in infractions, though they were still whistled 10 times for 79 yards.
JuJu Tuturi, a junior college transfer, had two sacks in the game as a defensive tackle for the Tigers.
Tuturi also had four solo tackles, as did defensive back Fred Gaines, and defensive end Alex King.
The leading tackler for ECU was outside linebacker Robert Vaneripe who had four solos and 6.5 overall. Danie Holland had 5.5 and Daren Campbell 5.
ECU’s early-season specialty teams problems continued to improve, and overall McCarty thought his team played petty well, though he still wants to see improvement in his young linebacking corp.
Southern Nazarene lost for the fifth-straight week. ECU is now 2-3 for the year and in the conference.
This week, they have the week off as far as an opponent goes.