|No. 9 EMCC clinches No. 1 seed with 48-10 homecoming win over Northeast|
SCOOBA – The ninth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi locked up their second straight MACJC North Division football championship by virtue of Saturday’s convincing 48-10 homecoming triumph over Northeast Mississippi on the Scooba campus.
Now 6-1 overall and 4-0 in divisional play with two weeks remaining in the regular season, head coach Buddy Stephens’ EMCC Lions are at least two games ahead of the other six teams in the North Division. The three teams currently tied for second place in the division with identical 2-2 league marks – Northeast, Coahoma and Northwest – have already dropped decisions to East Mississippi this season.
Saturday’s victory marked EMCC’s 13th consecutive North Division triumph dating back to the 2007 campaign, including a perfect 10-0 divisional mark the past two seasons under Stephens’ guidance.
Playing on soggy turf at Sullivan-Windham Field, the two teams traded scores through the opening quarter of play. Following a 10-yard touchdown grab by EMCC sophomore Lance Lewis from preseason All-American Randall Mackey five minutes into the contest, Northeast’s Tyler Turner booted through a 37-yard field goal with 5:34 left in the first quarter to pull the visitors to within a 7-3 tally.
Toward the end of the opening period, sophomore Pat Shed took a screen pass from Mackey and bolted down the right sideline for a 34-yard score. With seven rushing touchdowns on the year, Shed’s scoring grab marked his team-leading eighth overall touchdown of the season. Brett Spencer’s point-after-touchdown attempt sailed right with 2:12 left to keep the score 13-3 in favor of the home team.
After a combined sack by EMCC preseason All-American Claude Davis and fellow sophomore Brandon Lewis capped a three-and-out possession by the Tigers, freshman running back Floyd Graves fumbled on the Lions’ ensuing play from scrimmage. Northeast wasted little time capitalizing on the opportunity, as Clint Wilson found Dominique King in the right corner of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown. Turner’s PAT cut the NEMCC deficit to 13-10.
After the pace of the game stalled with both teams trading a pair of empty possessions, EMCC’s Lewis put some spark back into the contest by latching onto a Mackey toss over the middle, hurdling over a would-be tackler in the open field and sprinting the rest of the way for an exciting 83-yard catch-and-run to the end zone. A former football and basketball standout in his hometown of Concord, N.C., Lewis now has a team-high seven touchdown receptions on the season, including previous scoring grabs of 80 yards against Mississippi Gulf Coast and 70 yards versus Northwest Mississippi. Lewis finished the day with season-best totals of five catches for 121 receiving yards.
As the half appeared to be winding down to intermission, EMCC sophomore linebacker Maurice Owens of Mount Olive gave the home crowd one more thing to cheer about before the halftime festivities by scooping up a blocked punt and taking the ball 26 yards to pay dirt with a dozen ticks remaining on the game clock. Spencer’s point-after was true to put the home-standing Lions on top 27-10 at the break.
East Mississippi continued to keep the homecoming crowd entertained following the intermission, as sophomore receiver/returner Derrick Steele was rewarded for his second half-opening, 32-yard kickoff return with a 42-yard touchdown strike from Mackey on EMCC’s third offensive play of the half. The touchdown was Steele’s fifth of the season, while marking Mackey’s 21st scoring pass of the season and 45th of his EMCC career. Spencer’s PAT made it 34-10 with 13:50 left in the third quarter.
The Lions had an initial chance to put the game away early in the half, as freshman Izauea Lanier of Gordo, Ala., picked off his second interception of the game on the ensuing Northeast possession. However, Mackey was intercepted in the end zone two plays later by the Tigers’ Buck Beane. The reigning NJCAA Region 23 Offensive MVP, Mackey completed the afternoon 17-of-25 through the air for 288 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Leading the nation in total offense as a team, EMCC found another way to score midway through the third quarter. Freshman running back British Footman fielded a Northeast punt at the 16-yard line and dashed the remaining 84 yards to put the home team ahead by a 41-10 count with 8:21 remaining in the third period.
Backup quarterback Brad Henderson capped the game’s scoring by rumbling 49 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the season coming on the first play of the final quarter. The Starkville native was the game’s leading ground-gainer with 88 rushing yards on just four carries.
East Mississippi travels to Fulton to take on the Itawamba Indians next Saturday afternoon (Oct. 17) at 3 p.m., before closing out the regular season by playing host to Mississippi Delta on Thursday, Oct. 22. The MACJC state football playoffs begin with semifinal action on Saturday, Oct. 31, followed by the state championship contest a week later on Saturday, Nov. 7.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 12 October 2009 )|
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