In the first game of his career at wide out, Randall made sure Jeremy Liggins did not have the same feelings. The sophomore caught five passes for 128 yards and a touchdown to help Northeast Mississippi Community College to a 27-17 victory over Coahoma Community College to cap a successful 2013 homecoming on Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
Randall, a transfer from Louisiana State University (LSU), has played his entire career at quarterback and started in that position for the Tigers in their first four contests of the season. He played behind center in two drives against Coahoma, but made his impact as a receiver.
“I’m a fast guy and I just think it was a great opportunity,” he said of the transition to a new spot on the football field. “I was in the right place at the right time and made some plays for my quarterback.”
Two catches by the Miami Gardens, Fla., native set up Northeast’s first touchdown of the matchup. Liggins found Randall for a 29-yard gain on the opening play of the drive and then connected with him again just minutes later to move into the red zone.
Liggins did the rest with an 11-yard sprint over the goal line that cut Northeast’s deficit to 14-10 with 7:25 remaining until halftime.
On the next Tiger possession, Randall made a nice catch and moved down the home sidelines for a 46-yard gain before being forced out of bounds.
Chris Cooper successfully connected on a field goal try from 35 yards out to further cut into Coahoma’s advantage.
Coahoma looked like a team poised to pull off an upset and rob Northeast of a crucial Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division win during the opening half. The Tigers scored first on a short plunge into the end zone by Christian Williams.
Quaintavous Peterson used his athleticism in a 16-yard touchdown run that gave Coahoma (0-6, 0-3) its largest lead of the game at 14-3 early in the second quarter.
Cody Spears split the uprights on a field goal attempt of 30 yards as the clock expired to give the visiting Tigers a 17-13 advantage at the break.
But Northeast’s defense stepped up in the second half. The Tigers (3-3, 3-0) held Coahoma scoreless and to only 90 total yards in the final two periods.
Northeast took the lead for good on its initial possession after halftime. Randall hauled in his first touchdown reception on a 16-yard strike from Liggins to cap a nine-play drive that took under four minutes.
Coahoma had forced the Tigers to punt the football, but Cooper was knocked down by a defender to result in a personal foul call that turned the momentum in Northeast’s favor.
Matthew Belue gave the Tigers their winning margin with a short touchdown run with just seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Liggins had 228 all-purpose yards and completed 8 of 15 passes. Mitchell Cunningham did not score, but still crossed the century mark for the fourth time in six contests with 126 yards on 19 carries.
Cooper had the best outing of his sophomore campaign. The Madison Central High School graduate was 2 for 3 on field goal attempts, his only miss coming from 56 yards, and had five touchbacks in six kickoffs.
Defensively, Daniel Ross put in a strong performance with nine unassisted tackles, two of them for loss. Jamel Dennis stayed consistent with 11 tackles against the Tigers, matching his average per game.
Coahoma received the ball with great field position at the Northeast 42-yard line in the middle of the fourth quarter looking to come within one score of the lead, but Miguel Graham intercepted a Peterson pass to seal the victory for the Tigers.
Lineman Razean Prather used a diving effort to pick off a tipped ball by Anthony Peters earlier in the second half.
The win keeps Northeast in a three-way tie for the top spot in the MACJC North Division.
“Every game now is a playoff,” said Northeast head coach Ricky Smither. “We’re backed into a corner. It’s like a double elimination. We can lose one, but we can’t lose two.”
The Tigers return to the road Thursday to face division co-leader East Mississippi Community College (6-0, 3-0). Northeast and the No. 2 Lions are scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Sullivan-Windham Field.