|North Division champion EMCC travels to Itawamba for Saturday contest|
Kickoff at Lambert Stadium on the Itawamba campus is set for 3 p.m.
SCOOBA – The seventh-ranked Lions of East Mississippi will put their unblemished divisional mark on the line Saturday afternoon in Fulton by taking on the Itawamba Indians as part of ICC’s homecoming festivities.
Head coach Buddy Stephens’ EMCC Lions are 6-1 overall on the season and unbeaten in four divisional outings after claiming a 48-10 homecoming triumph over Northeast Mississippi this past Saturday in Scooba. The victory secured EMCC’s second consecutive MACJC North Division football championship and assured the Lions of making back-to-back state playoff appearances for the first time in school history.
Now 14-3 overall and 10-0 in divisional play under Stephens’ guidance, East Mississippi currently owns a 13-game winning streak against North Division competition dating back to the 2007 campaign. That string includes last year’s 40-34 victory over Itawamba in West Point and a season-ending 31-28 overtime road win over the Indians two years ago in Fulton.
After ranking as high as second nationally this season prior to dropping a 43-26 home decision to two-time defending state champion Mississippi Gulf Coast on Sept. 17, the Lions moved from ninth to seventh in this week’s JC Grid-Wire/JCFootball.com Top 25. EMCC remained at No. 10 in the current NJCAA/JCFootball.com national poll.
Statistically, East Mississippi remains atop the national team leaders in total offense with an average of 527 yards per contest. Having scored at least 26 points in every game this season, the Lions have topped the 40-point mark four times in 2009, including each of the last three contests.
All-America quarterback Randall Mackey triggers EMCC’s potent offensive game plan by ranking second nationally in total offense (354.1 yards per game) and third in passing (300 yds/gm). The reigning NJCAA Region 23 Offensive MVP has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 2,100 yards and 21 touchdowns on the year. With nine different players having at least a dozen grabs for the season, sophomores Bill Franks of State Line and Stephon Johnson of Gulfport lead the pass-catching parade with 32 and 25 receptions, respectively. Big-play specialists Lance Lewis (Concord, N.C.) and Derrick Steele of Utica have combined for a dozen scoring grabs thus far in 2009.
Spearheaded by current NJCAA Defensive Player of the Week Claude Davis, EMCC’s defensive unit is coming off one of its top collective efforts of the fall. In last week’s division-clinching win over Northeast Mississippi, the Lions limited the visitors to just 146 yards of total offense on the day, including but 65 net rushing yards on 34 attempts and only 8-of-19 passing for 81 yards. EMCC also combined for five quarterback sacks and eight additional tackles behind the line of scrimmage, in addition to a pair of pass interceptions by freshman safety Izauea Lanier (Gordo, Ala.) and a blocked punt for a touchdown by sophomore linebacker Maurice Owens of Mount Olive.
The Indians of Itawamba are 2-5 overall on the season and 1-3 in North Division play after dropping a 31-16 decision at Hinds last week. ICC’s wins this year have come at home over Jones County (21-7) in the season opener and at Holmes (35-34) two weeks ago. The Indians will close out their regular season by traveling to Coahoma next week.
Saturday’s EMCC-ICC contest from Fulton will be available through WFCA-FM’s website at www.wfca108.com with Jason Crowder and Glen Beard set to call the play-by-play action during the audio-streamed broadcast. The game can also be heard online by logging onto EMCC’s athletics website at http://athletics.eastms.edu.
East Mississippi will conclude regular-season competition by playing host to Mississippi Delta on Thursday, Oct. 22. Kickoff at EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus is set for 7 p.m. As the North Division’s No. 1 seed for the second straight year, the Lions will again host the South Division’s runner-up to begin the MACJC state football playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 31. The two winners of the semifinal-round contests will contend for the state championship the following Saturday on Nov. 7. The title game is set to be played on the home field of the highest-seeded North Division team remaining after the Oct. 31 semifinals.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 15 October 2009 )|
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