The duo combined to rush for over 200 yards, but Holmes Community College broke Northeast's four-game winning streak with a 41-21 decision on Thursday, October 20 at Tiger Stadium.
Both freshmen set new career-highs for rushing yards in a single contest against the Bulldogs. Banks fell just short of the 100-yard mark with 96 total yards on the ground with 17 touches.
Phillips was phenomenal as well with 139 yards on only 12 carries with two touchdowns. He also became the first Tiger to eclipse 100 yards since current Mississippi State University athlete Tiberias Lampkin did so during a victory at Coahoma Community College one year ago.
It was the most rushing yards by any Northeast player since Corbin White, who is now at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), notched 161 yards in a win over Mississippi Delta Community College on October 24, 2013.
"We've been watching their defense and we really figured it out and executed tonight," said Phillips. "Basically we slowed down and let the o-line make the block and then just hit the hole."
Phillips got the Tigers on the board early in the second quarter with a 35-yard sprint into the end zone. It capped a quick four-play drive that lasted only 59 seconds and cut Northeast's deficit to 14-7.
He concluded his stellar evening in the fourth with his fifth touchdown of the campaign. Phillips raced 29 yards untouched across the goal line to make the score 34-14 in favor of Holmes with 7:46 to go in the matchup.
The Bulldogs (5-3, 3-2) took a 21-7 advantage into the locker room following a receiving and rushing touchdown from Matt Fuller plus a Cameryn Brent 18-yard scoring run.
Holmes increased its lead to 27-7 in the third on a 50-yard interception return by Sean Harper. The Bulldogs concluded their evening with touchdowns by D.J. Montgomery and Fuller in the final period.
It was the third straight outing in which Montgomery recorded at least one touchdown for Northeast, which is ranked No. 7 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll. He tallied a game and career-high 87 yards on only five receptions.
Cunningham has now found the end zone through the air during all eight matchups so far this season. He also increased his passing numbers to 1,723 yards, which is the most by any Tiger quarterback in the last 12 years.
He passed Brett Thompson, who compiled 1,573 yards during the 2014 campaign and is presently with the University of Tennessee at Martin, on that prestigious list. Cunningham is the fifth Northeast signal caller since 2005 to pass for over 1,000 yards in one season.
Demarcus Rogers was one of three Tigers that reached double digits in tackles. He tallied a career-best 16 takedowns that were broken evenly between eight solos and eight assists.
"I'm going out there 100 percent because I don't want the season to end," Rogers said. "I base my success on that of the team. If my team doesn't do as well, then I don't do as well. Tonight was OK, but I can still do better."
Peyton McMahon recovered a fumble in the fourth for his team-high fifth takeaway of the year. Northeast's defensive and special teams departments have now forced 19 turnovers this season and at least one in each contest.
The Tigers had season-highs in both running yards with 242 and return yards at 129. Brandon Tillman paced that effort for Northeast 59 yards on two kickoffs while Toreano Miner and Bailey Walker both had over 30 yards as well.
"The kids played hard, but we made a lot of mistakes," Tigers head coach Greg Davis said. "Offensively we didn't convert when we needed to on critical downs. The bottom line is we've got to get better."
Northeast completes its regular season schedule on Thursday, October 27 by visiting 5th-ranked Northwest Mississippi Community College (7-1, 4-1). Kickoff between the two rivals is slated for 6:30 p.m. at Bobby Franklin Field.