|No. 7 EMCC falls 40-21 at No. 5 Mississippi Gulf Coast in season opener|
PERKINSTON, Miss. -- The seventh-ranked East Mississippi Lions couldn't overcome an early two-touchdown deficit Thursday in dropping a 40-21 season-opening road decision to No. 5 Mississippi Gulf Coast at A.L. May Memorial Stadium.
In a rematch of last year's MACJC state championship game, the visitors got off to a shaky start when EMCC sophomore Fred Tate muffed a short opening kickoff to give the home-standing Bulldogs excellent field position to begin the contest. On Gulf Coast's first play from scrimmage, a double reverse resulted in quarterback Clayton Moore finding Javon Bell for a 43-yard pass play to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Moore punched it in from a yard out with 13:40 left in the opening period. The two-point conversion pass attempt failed.
Later in the quarter, the Lions seemed poised to get on the scoreboard. However on the sixth play of the drive, Brad Henderson's pass was picked off by Will Copeland in the red zone. The Bulldogs methodically put together a 13-play drive that covered 63 yards and was capped at the 2:54 mark with a 2-yard burst up the middle by Eric Wills. Will Scott's PAT attempt was ruled no good to make it a 12-0 MGCCC advantage.
East Mississippi climbed back into the contest with a pair of second-quarter scores. Starkville's Henderson hit sophomore receiver Marcus McQuarley of Meridian on a 36-yard scoring pass at the 10:42 mark. EMCC freshman kicker Taylor Walker of Brandon followed with a 31-yard field goal with 3:16 left in the half to cut the deficit to 12-10.
Aided by a solid running game, Gulf Coast promptly responded by taking just seven plays to drive 63 yards and move on top 19-10 on Moore's 1-yard scoring pass to Kennedy Helms for the final score of the opening half.
The Bulldogs seemed to take control of the contest after picking off Henderson for the second time in the game early in the second half. Following Mario Gainer's pick of a tipped Henderson aerial, Wills capped a 46-yard drive by bolting 19 yards over the right side and into the end zone to make it a 26-10 contest with 11:55 left in the third quarter.
EMCC's quick-strike offense proved timely on its next possession, as freshman Rodney Davis' 34-yard reception set up sophomore Floyd Graves' 15-yard scoring burst up the middle to make it a one-score contest at 26-18 after Henderson's successful two-point conversion run with 10:16 remaining in the quarter. The Lions maintained the momentum on the ensuing kickoff when EMCC’s Michael Pack recovered a short, mishandled kickoff around midfield. However, the visitors couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity by failing to convert on a fourth-down pass play from the 26-yard line.
Gulf Coast all but sealed the victory two plays later as Moore and Bell hooked up once again on a 70-yard, catch-and-run scoring play over the middle that put the Bulldogs comfortably on top by a 33-18 margin with 6:48 remaining in the third quarter. EMCC's Walker added a 36-yard field goal late in the third quarter, while James Gillum's 7-yard touchdown run to begin the final period ended the scoring at 40-21.
Statistically for EMCC, Henderson completed 30-of-54 passes for 287 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The veteran signal-caller completed passes to nine different Lion receivers, led by former Noxubee County All-American Pat Patterson with seven catches for 79 yards in his East Mississippi debut. McQuarley, Davis and Graves all had four grabs in the contest. On the ground for the Lions, Graves, the former Newton County standout, led the way with 55 rushing yards and a score on nine carries.
Coach Buddy Stephens' EMCC Lions kick off their 2010 home slate next Thursday (Sept. 9) by playing host to Hinds in a 7 p.m. contest at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus. East Mississippi stays at home to begin defense of its back-to-back MACJC North Division titles by welcoming Northwest Mississippi to campus the following Thursday (Sept. 16) in another 7 p.m. encounter in Scooba.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 03 September 2010 )|
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