|No. 2 EMCC hosts No. 13 Gulf Coast in matchup of reigning divisional champs|
Kickoff for the much- anticipated EMCC-MGCCC inter-divisional gridiron clash is set for 7 p.m. at EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field.SCOOBA – In a battle of reigning state divisional football champions, the second-ranked East Mississippi Lions play host to 13th-ranked and defending state champion Mississippi Gulf Coast Thursday night on the Scooba campus.
Holding steady at the No. 2 spot nationally behind Blinn College in this week’s NJCAA/JCFootball.com poll, head coach Buddy Stephens’ EMCC squad is 3-0 overall on the year after having claimed a 41-14 home triumph over Holmes in last week’s MACJC North Division season opener. Winners of 10 consecutive regular-season contests dating back to last year, the Lions opened the current season with a 27-13 victory at Copiah-Lincoln followed by a 28-17 home win over Jones County.
Guided by sixth-year head coach Steve Campbell, the 2-1 MGCCC Bulldogs are tied for 13th in this week’s NJCAA/JCFootball.com poll as well as 10th nationally in the current JC Grid-Wire/JCFootball.com Top 25. Following last year’s 10-2 mark and second straight MACJC state title, Mississippi Gulf Coast has rebounded from its season-opening 30-25 home loss to Northwest Mississippi by knocking off Itawamba (63-9) and Southwest Mississippi (33-16) the past two weeks.
All-America quarterback Randall Mackey engineers the No. 2-rated offensive unit in the country, as the EMCC Lions are averaging 518 yards of total offense per game on the year. The sophomore signal-caller ranks sixth nationally in total offense individually, averaging 292.3 yards an outing. Having completed 68 percent of his passes with eight scoring tosses through three games, Mackey most recently accounted for 426 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in last week’s divisional win over Holmes.
Sophomore running back Pat Shed of Starkville ranks among the state’s top-seven leaders in both rushing (81.7 yards per game) and scoring (24 points). MGCCC’s Vick Ballard heads both MACJC statistical categories by averaging 154.3 rushing yards per game to go along with seven touchdowns on the year. As a team, Gulf Coast has averaged 314.7 rushing yards an outing to date this fall. In addition, Bulldog sophomore Greg Jenkins presently stands as the state’s second-rated quarterback in terms of passing efficiency (164.9).
Headed by sophomores Bill Franks (State Line) and Stephon Johnson (Gulfport) with 12 and 11 catches, respectively, EMCC features eight different receivers with five or more receptions on the year. Five of those receivers have hauled in scoring passes for the Lions thus far in 2009.
Defensively, East Mississippi stands third in the state behind Copiah-Lincoln and Mississippi Gulf Coast in total team defense by surrendering an average of 271 yards per game. On the other sideline, the visiting Bulldogs come to Scooba owning the nation’s No. 3 defensive unit against the run in allowing only 16 rushing yards per contest on the season. The EMCC defenders currently stand second in the state in team rushing defense with a per-game average of 87.7 yards.
Highlighted by last year’s dramatic 27-23 comeback road victory over No. 2 and defending national co-champion Mississippi Gulf Coast, EMCC will look to extend a 10-game series winning streak over the Bulldogs that dates back to the 1987 football campaign. With eight of the 10 most recent head-to-head meetings having been decided by 10 points or less, the last four matchups have collectively been decided by only 16 total points.
Thursday’s EMCC-Gulf Coast contest will be broadcast by WFCA-FM radio (107.9) with Jason Crowder set to describe the play-by-play action and Glen Beard slated to provide the color analysis. The game can be heard online via EMCC’s athletics website – http://athletics.eastms.edu – or by logging onto www.wfca108.com.
With Thursday’s non-divisional outing marking the conclusion of the team’s three-game September home stand, East Mississippi will be on the road the next two weeks. Following next Thursday’s (Sept. 24) visit to Senatobia to take on No. 19 Northwest Mississippi, the Lions are then set to venture to Clarksdale for an Oct. 1 divisional road contest against Coahoma.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 September 2009 )|
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