|No. 10 EMCC caps regular season with 35-15 win at Delta to post perfect 6-0 North record|
EMCC’s seventh consecutive win of the year capped a perfect 6-0 record in conference play and gave the Lions their first outright North Division championship in school history.
MOORHEAD, Miss. – Scoring three unanswered second-half touchdowns, the 10th-ranked East Mississippi Lions closed out the regular season with a 35-15 divisional road win over the Trojans of Mississippi Delta Saturday evening at Jim Randall Field.Along with recording their first eight-win season on the field since 1974, the 8-1 Lions’ current seven-game winning streak is the team’s longest such string since opening the 1964 campaign with eight straight victories en route to a 9-2 record under the direction of coach Bob Sullivan. Set to host the school’s first-ever MACJC state football playoff game on Saturday against second-seeded Pearl River from the South Division, East Mississippi will be making the program’s first state playoff appearance since 1984.
Entering Saturday’s contest in Moorhead boasting one of the nation’s top scoring teams, it was the Lions’ defense that enabled EMCC to put the game’s first points on the board in the team’s regular-season finale. After East Mississippi opened the contest with a three-and-out possession, the Lions thwarted Delta’s initial nine-play drive into EMCC territory with a pass breakup by linebacker Devonta Bolton and a Leslie Stirrups quarterback pressure from his tackle position. The Lions took over at their own 8-yard line and proceeded to march 92 yards on just six plays, highlighted by a 55-yard completion from freshman quarterback Randall Mackey to sophomore wide receiver Leon Berry. Starkville’s Pat Shed notched his 10th rushing touchdown of the season and recorded the only points of the game’s opening quarter by scoring on a 16-yard run around the left side with 7:23 remaining in the first period.
Ending their season at 4-5 overall and 2-4 in North Division action, the Mississippi Delta Trojans started the second-quarter scoring with a 10-play drive that resulted in a successful 32-yard field goal by Chris Reifers. EMCC answered with a nine-play scoring drive that was kept alive by Mackey’s 19-yard scramble to the 1-yard line on a fourth-and-10 attempt. Meridian’s Cedrick Blanks punched the ball over from a yard out at the 6:47 mark to put the visitors on top by a 14-3 count. With time running down in the opening half of play, MDCC took advantage of Mackey’s 14th interception of the year. The Trojans capitalized on the EMCC miscue by grinding out 67 yards on 11 plays to pull to within five points, 14-9, on a 3-yard scoring run by 6-foot-5, 250-pound quarterback Johnathan Taylor with 27 seconds left in the half.
Mississippi Delta claimed its first and only lead of the contest midway through the third quarter on a 16-yard scoring strike from Taylor to Cordario Calvin. Following Stirrups’ blocked point-after-touchdown attempt by Reifers, the home-standing Trojans led, 15-14, with 8:32 remaining in the quarter. That MDCC touchdown seemed to ignite the visiting Lions on both sides of the football. Two minutes later, Mackey connected with Berry on a 24-yard touchdown aerial that put EMCC on top to stay. East Mississippi’s defense stiffened to halt a nine-play drive on Delta’s next possession, but the Lions were pinned down at their own 1-yard line. Mackey was at his finest in directing the nation’s top-ranked total offense unit 99 yards on just seven plays on a drive that featured five consecutive first-down plays. Following a 16-yard reverse by Berry and successive 21-yard runs by Mackey and Shed, EMCC’s national offensive player of the year candidate hooked up with Wayne Bonner on a 28-yard scoring strike. Mackey’s 20th touchdown pass and Bonner’s seventh scoring reception of the year put the visitors on top, 28-15, heading into the final period.
While EMCC’s defensive unit was limiting the Trojans to just 55 yards of total offense over the game’s final 21 minutes, the Lions’ potent offense sealed the 20-point victory with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 3-yard scoring burst by Blanks. Placekicker Phillip Dimino of West Point was true on his fifth straight PAT attempt of the game to give the Lions their seventh straight victory since dropping a narrow 23-19 road decision to then-No. 7 Jones County JC on Sept. 6.
Statistically on the night against Mississippi Delta, EMCC totaled 552 yards of total offense and held the Trojans to just 280 total yards of offense. Mackey completed 20-of-35 passes for 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns, in addition to picking up 58 yards on the ground. Shed and Blanks rushed for 113 and 70 yards, respectively, while Berry topped the Lion receivers with seven catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 26 October 2008 )|
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