Kilgore College’s 2020 football season was played entirely in spring, 2021, and ended Saturday in Athens with a win, and it took almost every single second.

The Rangers, hanging on by four points with home-team Trinity Valley driving and just seconds left, made their own break, as defensive back Oscar Moore intercepted a pass in the end zone, ending the threat and the game, as KC won, 40-36.

KC gained that lead when who took the lead in the game with just over five minutes left when quarterback Malcolm Mays connected with receiver Willie McCoy on an 80-yard pass play, with just over 5 1/2 minutes left.

That was the final game of the season, an eight-game schedule largely in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference. The Rangers, coached by Willie Gooden, were ranked sixth in the nation going into the game; Trinity Valley had been ranked seventh.

KC finished the eight-game slate with a 7-1 record. The NJCAA plans to play the 2021 season as normal, starting in late August.

The final NJCAA poll should be released Monday afternoon.

The Rangers’ final game was a back-and-forth affair. KC got on the board first with a 41-yard touchdown run by Garrison Johnson. TVCC tailback Cordrick Dunn tied the game, though, on Trinity Valley’s next possession.

A punt blocked out of the end zone gave KC a 9-7 lead at the beginning of the second quarter, but again the lead swung back, when the Cardinals’ Jordan Davis scored on a 21-yard pass from Matt Morrissey (14-9 TVCC).

Momentum switched again with five minutes left in the half, when Mays and McCoy connected for the first time in the game, a 41-yard touchdown pass. KC was in front again, this time 15-14, and then each team added a field goal – Tristan Driggers hit KC’s as the first half clock ran out. The Rangers took an 18-17 lead into the half.

The see-saw continued in the third quarter. Christopher Esqueda reclaimed the lead for TVCC (20-18), but the Cardinals lost it again on KC’s next possession, when Kilgore High School alum Kennieth Lacy got into the end zone on a 2-yard run (25-20 KC).

Each team would score again in the third quarter: the Cardinals got an 8-yard touchdown run from Korey King, and then Brandon Webb caught a pass from Mays near the line of scrimmage, and burst free for a 33-26 lead.

Things tightened up in the fourth quarter, and it looked like Trinity Valley was pulling away, honestly. Cam Camper grabbed a pass from Morrisey, a short pass (6 yards) but a touchdown nonetheless, and then the Cardinals added another score on a 33-yard field goal. With just more than 6 1/2 minutes left to play, TVCC was up 36-33, a flimsy lead at best.

It didn’t hold.

KC took the ball on the kickoff, and Mays and McCoy – who has developed a knack for big plays – made their 80-yard touchdown connection, giving the Rangers the lead for the final time. Morrissey did get the Cardinals near the Rangers’ end zone, but the Cards called a trick play where Morrissey was to catch a pass. Moore sniffed it out, picked off the pass and sealed the win.

Mays finished with 350 passing yards and two touchdowns; McCoy caught both passes, and finished with five catches for 240 yards and the two scores; Johnson finished with 58 rushing yards and the score on just five carries.

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