|No. 13 EMCC looks to clinch North Division title by meeting Itawamba Saturday in West Point|
Kickoff time for the North Division contest is set for 1 p.m. at West Point High School’s Hamblin Stadium.SCOOBA, Miss. – Bidding for their first state football playoff appearance since 1984, the 13th-ranked Lions of East Mississippi (6-1, 4-0) take on the Itawamba Indians (2-5, 2-2) Saturday afternoon in West Point.
Tickets will be available beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday for $5 per adult and $3 per student. Saturday afternoon’s EMCC-ICC radio broadcast can be heard on WFCA-FM (107.9) – the Voice of French Camp Academy – with Brett Bouchillon and Jason Crowder calling the action. The broadcast can also be accessed via audio streaming through EMCC’s athletics website – athletics.eastms.edu.
With EMCC riding a current five-game winning streak for the first time since 1996, coach Buddy Stephens’ 2008 Lions are 6-1 overall and 4-0 in North Division play after shutting out Northeast Mississippi, 49-0, in Booneville last week. The most recent East Mississippi team to put together a six-game win string in one season was coach A.J. Kilpatrick’s 9-1 club in 1969. Following a 23-19 road loss to now-No. 8 Jones County on Sept. 6, the Lions have since reeled off consecutive victories over Holmes (52-14), then-No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast (27-23), Northwest Mississippi (27-19), Coahoma (47-20) and Northeast.
Directed by freshman quarterback Randall Mackey - the nation’s leader in passing offense (267.4 yards per game) and total offense (312.9 yards per game) - the Lions currently top the NJCAA’s team statistical leaders in both passing and total offense. With EMCC’s offense averaging a league-leading 35.6 points per outing on the year, including three contests with 47 points or more, Mackey, a 2007 PARADE All-American at Bastrop (La.) High School, has accounted for 1,872 yards and 15 touchdowns through the air on 62-percent passing (128-of-207) for the season.
Now ranked third among the MACJC team rushing leaders averaging 167.3 yards a game, the Lions are powered on the ground by Pat Shed of Starkville, who ranks as the league’s No. 3 ground-gainer with 518 yards and third-leading non-kicking scorer with 54 points. EMCC’s talented stable of receivers is paced by Meridian’s Montrez Mosley and Mike Outlaw of Starkville with 29 receptions each on the year. Leon Berry of Griffin, Ga., and Meridian’s A.J. Brown follow with 24 and 21 grabs, respectively, while sophomore Wayne Bonner of Milledgeville, Ga., ranks eighth in the conference averaging 56.9 receiving yards an outing in addition to standing tied for fifth with six touchdowns for the season.
Coming off the school’s first shutout victory since 2000 with last Thursday’s 49-0 blanking of Northeast, the Lions own the nation’s fourth-best team passing defense in allowing just an average of 113.4 passing yards per game. Last week in Booneville, EMCC limited the winless Tigers to just 161 yards of total offense on 92 passing yards and 69 rushing yards. Individually, defensive end Claude Davis is tied for second among MACJC leaders with seven sacks, while reserve free safety Anthony Hines of Starkville is tied for second with four interceptions.
Guided by head coach Jeff Terrill, Itawamba is 2-5 overall with both wins coming in North Division play against Northeast (12-9) and Holmes (33-29). Reigning as the defending North Division champions, the Indians own the MACJC’s second-best rushing defense (83.2 yards per game) and are ranked third in the league in total defense (286.4 yards per game).
During last year’s regular-season finale in Fulton, East Mississippi claimed a 31-28 overtime road victory over 12th-ranked Itawamba. In spoiling ICC’s 2007 homecoming, current University of Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount rushed for 174 yards to lead the Lions, while now-sophomore wide receiver Leon Berry ran back a 90-yard kickoff return for EMCC to tie the game at 28-28.
The EMCC Lions close out the 2008 regular season next Saturday (Oct. 25) with a 6:30 p.m. road encounter against divisional foe Mississippi Delta in Moorhead. The state football playoffs begin the following Saturday (Nov. 1) with the North and South Division winners hosting first-round contests. The 2008 state championship game will be held one week later (Nov. 8) at a site to be determined.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 17 October 2008 )|
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