BOONEVILLE, Miss. - Shawn Dalton Weatherbee provided Northeast Mississippi Community College's football team with a walk-off winner just 18 days after his summer baseball season came to a close.
Weatherbee burst into the end zone from one-yard out in the first overtime to send the Northeast faithful into a frenzied celebration with a thrilling 19-13 victory over Southwest Mississippi Community College on Thursday, August 29 at Tiger Stadium.
The Thrasher High School graduate missed the first full week of fall practice with the Tigers after the Tupelo 49ers reached the championship game of the American Legion Southeast Regional Tournament at the University of Tampa (Fla.).
But Weatherbee, who will also play baseball in the spring at Northeast, looked as if he had not missed a beat. His winning scamper was the final piece to a game-high 94-yard performance on the ground.
"Practice has been pretty hard. I was really behind on the plays and I struggled a little bit," said Weatherbee. "I got in tonight and I just felt like I had to make the most of it. It was a pretty crazy turn of events."
Northeast's defense did its part during the Bears' overtime possession. A tackle for loss by Jamarcus Smith coupled with a false start violation forced Southwest to attempt a 36-yard field goal, which fell short and no good.
Patrick Felton set up Weatherbee's heroics with a 15-yard completion to Montel Gladney on 3rd down after the Tigers were pushed backwards on their second play of the extra session by a holding penalty.
"I'm going to tell you, these kids were relentless," said Northeast head coach Greg Davis. "We told them from the beginning it was going to be a roller coaster night. I'm proud of them. We've got a special group."
The Tigers, who are receiving votes in the preseason National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) rankings, had to drive nearly the length of the entire field in just over two minutes to extend the contest in the first place.
Northeast converted a pair of third downs during its 15-play, 70-yard possession. Starting quarterback Jack Mangel moved the chains with an eight-yard keeper near midfield and later Felton found Gladney on a 12-yard pass to push the Tigers into the red zone.
Michael Baugus capped the game saving drive after surviving a late timeout by the Bears with a 31-yard field goal with just six seconds remaining in regulation to bring the contest into a 13-13 stalemate.
"I figured they were going to ice me," Baugus said. "I knew it was going to be a good one. I had to zone out a little bit and just go do what I do. It was a burden off my chest. This was good to start off the season."
Baugus cashed Northeast's inaugural possession of the year into points as well. The reigning Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-State selection knocked through a 28-yard try to give the Tigers an early 3-0 lead.
Weatherbee made a loud debut in the second quarter. He took the first carry of his collegiate career 72 yards for a touchdown to increase Northeast's advantage to 10-0 with 2:46 left before the intermission.
Southwest (0-1) got onto the scoreboard after halftime when Cameron Lee recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. The Bears then took their only lead of the matchup in the fourth period on a one-yard touchdown run by Patrick Price.
The Tigers held Southwest's option based offense to 172 yards, including just 77 rushing yards. The Bears only recorded nine first downs and were 1 of 13 on third down opportunities.
Northeast captured its first season opener since the 2016 campaign. The Tigers bested Pearl River Community College that night to begin a six-win season that ended with a top 10 final ranking from the NJCAA.
Felton and Mangel combined to complete 27 passes for 228 yards. Sophomores Carson Banks and Gladney were their top targets with 13 catches and over 100 yards between them.
Smith was sensational for Northeast from his spot at linebacker. He racked up a game-high 13 takedowns, including 1.5 tackles for loss, with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Dre Bays was solid on special teams after blocking two field goal attempts by Southwest. Northeast totaled 342 yards of offense while both squads were whistled for nine penalties.
The Tigers face their first road trip of the year next Thursday, September 5 at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at H.L. Stone Stadium in Wesson.