|No. 7 EMCC keeps North Division string intact with 28-10 home win over Delta|
SCOOBA – The seventh-ranked East Mississippi Lions solidified their second straight 8-1 regular-season mark and extended their MACJC North Division winning streak to 15 consecutive games with a 28-10 home triumph over Mississippi Delta Thursday night at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus.
With their top-rated offense not clicking on all cylinders in their regular-season finale, the Lions received a huge special teams boost from freshman wide receiver British Footman, who compiled 215 return yards on the night with a pair of kickoff returns and a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown. Footman, from Tallahassee, Fla., previously brought back an 84-yard punt return for a score two weeks ago against Northeast Mississippi.
Entering the contest ranked first nationally with an average of 513.9 yards of total offense per outing, EMCC failed to put up points in the first quarter for the first time this season. With the visitors also not able to score through the first 15 minutes of action, both teams combined for four punts and four fumbles during the opening period.
The Lions’ defensive unit helped set up the team’s first score, as Anthony Hines’ third interception of the year led to a 2-yard scoring run by freshman Floyd Graves of Newton at the 13:15 mark of the second quarter. A sophomore free safety from Starkville, Hines added his team-leading fourth pick of the campaign later in the half to go along with a first-half fumble recovery.
The visiting Trojans answered five minutes later with a nine-play, 63-yard scoring drive on the game’s next possession. Jarvis Smith was rewarded for his 36-yard run on a third-and-one conversion earlier in the drive by taking it in from 3 yards out to knot the score at 7-7 with 8:15 remaining in the half.
The game’s momentum swung back in favor of the home team midway through the quarter when Footman fielded an Anthony Simpson punt inside the 10-yard line, spun away from would-be tacklers and sprinted 91 yards down the right sideline for his second return for a touchdown in the last three games. As a result, East Mississippi took a 14-7 lead into intermission.
Entering the game ranked second in the state in fewest points allowed per game (18.4) but last in the MACJC with an average of only 13 points scored per outing on the year, Mississippi Delta opened the second half with a solid eight-play drive that resulted in a 33-yard field goal by Parker Brocato. The successful 3-pointer made it a 14-10 contest with 11:34 left in the third quarter.
Footman, who previously had a 44-yard kickoff return in the first half, once again changed the complexion of the game by setting up a 4-yard scamper by reserve quarterback Brad Henderson with a tackle-breaking, 80-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. Henderson’s fourth rushing touchdown of the season increased EMCC’s lead to 21-10 with 11:12 remaining in the period.
In second-half relief of All-America signal-caller Randall Mackey, Henderson capped the night’s scoring by connecting with sophomore Stephon Johnson of Gulfport on a 16-yard scoring strike at the 10:49 mark of the final period. Battling nagging injuries, Mackey played the entire first half, hitting 9-of-15 passes for 91 yards and one interception.
As a team, the Lions could muster only 194 yards of total offense (114 passing & 80 rushing) on the night against the MACJC’s top-ranked team in both total defense and rushing defense.
Now 16-3 overall and a perfect 12-0 against North Division competition under the guidance of second-year head coach Buddy Stephens, EMCC’s 15-game winning streak versus the MACJC North dates back to the 2007 campaign.
Following last year’s MACJC state playoff appearance against Pearl River – EMCC’s first playoff berth since 1984 – East Mississippi is set to make a second consecutive state playoff appearance for the first time in school history. As the North Division’s No. 1 seed for the second straight year, the Lions will play host to the South Division’s runner-up to begin the MACJC state playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 31. The two winners of the semifinal-round contests will contend for the state championship on Saturday, Nov. 7.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 23 October 2009 )|
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