Senatobia, Miss. – Bailey Walker knew his role and executed it perfectly for the Northeast Mississippi Community College football team during its Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division opener.
The Tigers compiled two straight scoring drives after Walker was successful on a fake punt attempt. But nationally ranked Northwest Mississippi Community College eventually won the rivalry matchup 51-14 on Thursday, September 10 at Bobby Franklin Field.
The Rangers, who appear at No. 10 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll, registered the initial 28 points of the contest. They took a lead on their first possession with a 62-yard touchdown pass from Gardner Minshew to Justin Crawford.
Crawford added another receiving score plus a 49-yard dash across the goal line during the offensive spurt for Northwest. Minshew had a 22-yard touchdown toss to Ryan Golden as well in the early stages of the game.
It appeared as if the Rangers might take control of the pigskin once again with an opportunity to extend their lead after they seemingly put Northeast in a three-and-out situation.
But Walker, who has mostly seen action at quarterback this season, used his stealth to give the Tigers new life. His 31-yard sprint from the punt formation moved Northeast into enemy territory.
"I had to make a play so I just took off running," said Walker. "I was trying to make something happen. My job is to spark the team and do whatever I can anytime."
The Tigers capitalized on Walker's athleticism seven plays later when Khalid Kornegay made a beautiful diving catch in the back of the end zone to complete a long fourth down conversion.
The 26-yard strike from Kendrick Doss served as the inaugural touchdown of the campaign for Kornegay. The Tulsa, Okla., native was tied for second on the squad with four scores one year ago.
"It lifted my spirits," Kornegay said. "It's a good confidence boost when you've been working hard for something and you finally get it. My guys were happy for me. I needed one tonight."
Northeast cut its deficit to only two possessions moments later after forcing Northwest to punt. Doss broke three potential tackles during a phenomenal 38-yard touchdown run.
It was the team-high second score on the ground this year for Doss, who is a transfer from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). Austin Holloway's extra point was good to bring the Tigers within 28-14 at the 3:33 mark of the second period.
The Rangers pushed their advantage to 31-14 at the break following a 41-yard field goal by Jim Speights. He was also true on a pair of 30-plus yard attempts after the intermission.
Crawford and Golden concluded their evenings with a touchdown each in the third. Crawford garnered 244 all-purpose yards between receiving and running to pace Northwest (3-0, 1-0).
Doss guided Northeast with his second 100-yard passing performance of the campaign. The Florence, Ala., product accounted for 115 yards to be exact with a team-best 71 rushing yards as well.
Walker, who is the son of former Mississippi State University punter Jeff Walker, was also solid in multiple positions for the Tigers. The Lake Cormorant High School product had over 100 total yards behind center and averaged 43.4 yards on five boots with two that landed inside the 20-yard line.
"Bailey has done an excellent job," said Northeast head coach Greg Davis. "He's getting better as the weeks go on and is starting to understand the offense more and more. We're really pleased with his effort."
Multiple Northeast standouts set new season-bests in tackles, including defensive back Brady Smith. The South Panola High School graduate finished in a tie with a game-high nine stops.
Northeast hosts its first contest in the City of Hospitality since the season opener when East Mississippi Community College (2-1, 1-0) comes to town on Thursday, September 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.