JACKSON - After Huricane Isaac pushed the game back to the weekend, the Millsaps Majors and the Mississippi College Choctaws finally squared off on hot, muggy Saturday afternoon at Harper Davis Field. Millsaps got a huge day from sophomore Mike Barthelemy and the offensive line as they defeated Mississippi College 23-17 to snap a three-game losing streak to their arch rivals.
"My offensive line had a field day, everything was open," said Barthelemy "Today we prevailed and did what we had to do."
And the offensive line did work leading the Majors to 268 total rushing yards with 150 of them coming from Barthelemy.
The Majors (1-0) got things rolling early on as they took the opening kickoff and drove it into Choctaw territory immediately thanks to a 45 yard run from Barthelemy. However, the Majors could not take advantage of the opportunity after a fumble.
This time, the Majors took full advantage by putting together a eight play, 35-yard drive capped off by a one yard plunge by Barthelemy to go on top 6-0. Millsaps attempted to go for two to catch the Choctaws off guard, but could not convert.
The teams traded three and outs before Mississippi College drove the ball down to Millsaps 29 yard line as they looked to even the score. Facing a fourth and four, Stewart and senior Russell Pellichino came up with a huge sack to turn the ball over on downs.
The Major offense could not take advantage of the opportunity as the first quarter came to a close and MC used their next drive to get on the board in the second after a 31 yard field goal from Chris Campbell.
Millsaps answered right back. After runs of 12 and seven by Barthelemy, senior Garrett Pinciottihooked up with senior Kegan Joplin for a 43 yard gain down to the Choctaw 18 yard line. The Majors eventually settled for a 30 yard field goal by sophomore Beau Brady to cap a seven play, 67-yard drive and give Millsaps a 9-3 lead.
However, MC took the lead going into half after they capped a drive of their with a 19 yard rushing touchdown from Therion Robinson to go up 10-9.
After a few three and outs to start the second half, the Majors retook the lead for good after the offense put together a huge nine play, 80 yard drive capped off with a Pinciotti touchdown pass to Joplin from 14 yards out to make it 16-10. The key to the drive was the running of freshman Jalen Jones who came on for carries of six, seven, and 37 yards in consecutive plays.
The Major defense continued to hold strong as the teams went into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter started with a bang as sophomore Zach Bell got into the backfield and sacked quarterback Jonathan Redd to stall a Mississippi College drive.
The offense responded completed a huge pass to sophomore Charlie Strauss for 21 yards and then using his own legs to pick up 14 yards to get the Majors into striking distance. The play of the game then came as Pinciotti reared back and found junior Jonathan Moore on a fade route for a beautiful, diving 28 yard catch to put Millsaps up 23-10 with 10:04 to go.
"The ball was in the air and all I thought was here we go," said Moore. "I caught it and came down with it, the best part was to get to celebrate with my teammates."
The Choctaws did not go down easily as they responded with a 10 play, 78 yard drive resulting Les Lemmons catch and score to cut the score to 23-17 with 5:36 remaining.
MC got the ball back with 3:26 remaining, but the Major defense continued to hold strong and held them to a three and out to give the Major offense a chance to run the clock out.
"All week we wanted to be the more physical them, when we got together today, we wanted to hit them in the mouth," said senior linebacker Jeb White who picked up seven tackles. "We came out there and tried to hit them mouth every single play, when we got tired, we kept hitting them in the mouth."
Facing third and seven, Pinciotti completed a perfectly executed screen to Barthelemy who ran straight ahead for the first down and the victory.
For the Majors, it was important to finally get a win over Mississippi College after coming so close on many occasions.
"It means a lot to us, and not just us, but our community," said Barthelemy. "We had to come out here and play for the alumni, for our school, and for us, we are all family."
Barthelemy finished the day with 150 yards rushing on 29 carries and a touchdown while Jones added 77 yards on nine carries.
Pinciotti had a great day, going 12-for-22 for 161 yards and two touchdowns. As important as the win over MC was to him as a senior, he knows it's only one game.
"It's good to beat them going out in my last year," said Pinciotti. "Like Coach Pelch said it's only the first one, we'll enjoy it for a couple hours, but then all of our focus turns to LaGrange."
Pinciotti saw a focused group hit the field this afternoon and wants to see more of it this season, "We need to come together, I told everyone this was most prepared and focus I've ever seen a team, we have to do that every week."
Joplin led all receivers with five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown while Moore had two catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, White led the way with seven tackles while sophomore Alex Jackson added six. The Majors defensive line was outstanding, picking up three sacks on the afternoon. The defense was great all afternoon as they only held the Choctaws to 74 yards rushing and 284 yards of total offense. They also got off the field by holding MC to 1-of-12 on third down conversions (8%).
For the Majors, they hit the road for the first time in 2012 as they travel to LaGrange, Ga. to take on the LaGrange Panthers. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.