|EMCC to host defending state champion Gulf Coast in MACJC football championship|
Pitting the respective regular-season champions of the Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges (MACJC), Saturday’s kickoff for the 2009 MACJC state football championship is set for 2 p.m. at EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field.SCOOBA – The seventh-ranked Lions of East Mississippi will bid for a school-first state football championship by playing host to two-time defending state champion Mississippi Gulf Coast Saturday afternoon on the Scooba campus.
Tickets for Saturday’s state title game will be available for purchase on the day of the game at a cost of $10 for adults and $5 for students. Pre-game tailgating will run from 10 a.m. until game time on the grounds of Aust Hall.
With a two-year overall composite record of 17-3 under the guidance of head coach Buddy Stephens, the 9-1 EMCC Lions are presently ranked seventh nationally in the NJCAA/JCFootball.com poll but jumped four notches to No. 3 in the current JC Grid-Wire National Top 25. In the Grid-Wire rankings, East Mississippi sits behind top-rated Navarro College of Texas and Mississippi Gulf Coast. MGCCC is ranked third in this week’s NJCAA/JCFootball.com poll behind No. 1 Navarro and Fort Scott of Kansas.
Featuring unblemished 6-0 MACJC North Division records each of the last two seasons, EMCC has become the first junior college football program in Mississippi to post back-to-back unbeaten divisional marks since Northwest Mississippi registered three consecutive perfect North Division records during the 1998, 1999 and 2000 campaigns. In addition, this year’s EMCC squad is the first North Division program to be represented in the state championship football game since Holmes claimed the 2002 state title.
Competing in back-to-back MACJC state football playoffs for the first time in school history, Saturday will mark EMCC’s first-ever appearance in the state championship game. Prior to Stephens’ arrival on the Scooba campus, the Lions had appeared in one prior state football playoff (1984) since the MACJC implemented the state playoff system in 1970.
Riding a current six-game winning streak, including last week’s 26-16 home triumph over Jones County in the state semifinals played in Scooba, the Lions will be looking to avenge their lone loss of the 2009 campaign during Saturday’s state championship contest. On Sept. 17, the visiting Bulldogs of MGCCC posted a 43-26 road triumph over then-No. 2 East Mississippi. Prior to this year’s setback to Mississippi Gulf Coast, EMCC had previously beaten the Bulldogs 10 straight times on the gridiron dating back to the 1987 campaign, including last year’s come-from-behind 27-23 upset road triumph over then-No. 2 Gulf Coast in Perkinston.
Saturday’s clash of divisional champions pits two of the nation’s most potent offenses, as MGCCC and East Mississippi are averaging 40.8 and 35 points per outing, respectively. In addition, Mississippi Gulf Coast and EMCC rate second and third, respectively, among the nation’s total offense leaders in averaging better than 470 yards of total offense per game.
Individually, the Lions showcase Preseason NJCAA All-American Randall Mackey at quarterback. The 6-foot, 185-pound Louisiana native tops the NJCAA in completion percentage (174-of-258 for 67.4%), along with ranking third in passing yards per game (266.4) and fourth with 22 passing touchdowns on the year.
As for the visitors, Mississippi Gulf Coast features the nation’s second-best ground attack, averaging 316 rushing yards per contest. Sophomore running back Vick Ballard leads the NJCAA with 1,469 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns on the season. Having dropped their season opener at home to Northwest Mississippi (30-25) back on Aug. 27, the 9-1 Bulldogs have since reeled off nine straight victories, including last week’s 58-21 home win over Coahoma in the state semifinals.
While East Mississippi aims for the school’s first-ever state football championship, MGCCC has claimed 14 state titles through the years, including each of the last two seasons. Under the direction of sixth-year head coach Steve Campbell, the Bulldogs have put together a 50-12 composite record, including a 2007 co-national championship, the two state titles and a current string of three consecutive MACJC South Division crowns.
Saturday’s state championship contest will be made available online 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.
The winner of Saturday’s state title game will earn an invitation to compete in next month’s Mississippi Bowl in Biloxi. In its second year, the 2009 Mississippi Bowl will be played on Sunday, Dec. 6 at Biloxi Indian Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 November 2009 )|
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