|EMCC plays host to No. 11 Northwest Mississippi to kick off quest for third straight division crown|
Kickoff for Thursday’s divisional opener is set for 7 p.m. at EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field.
SCOOBA – East Mississippi’s quest for a possible third consecutive MACJC North Division football title begins Thursday night at home, as head coach Buddy Stephens’s EMCC Lions play host to 11th-ranked Northwest Mississippi on the Scooba campus.
Featuring an unblemished 12-0 mark in divisional play since Stephens took over EMCC’s head coaching duties in 2008, the Lions will be looking to extend a 15-game winning streak against North Division opponents that dates back to the 2007 campaign. Included in East Mississippi’s current divisional win string were last year’s key 49-42 road victory over Northwest Mississippi in a battle of ranked opponents and EMCC’s 27-19 home triumph over the Rangers two seasons ago in Scooba.
Unranked in the NJCAA football poll for the first time since the opening month of play in 2008, this year’s East Mississippi squad is attempting to get into the win column following season-opening losses to a pair of South Division opponents. Last week’s 50-42 home setback to Hinds was preceded by a 40-21 defeat at Mississippi Gulf Coast two weeks ago. The recent consecutive losses to MGCCC and Hinds, ranked second and 18th in this week’s NJCAA poll, respectively, mark the first time during the Stephens era that the Lions have dropped back-to-back decisions on the gridiron. EMCC is now 19-5 overall under Stephens’ guidance the past two-plus seasons.
Statistically, East Mississippi continues to maintain its prominence among the national statistical rankings on the offensive side of the football. With sophomore quarterback Brad Henderson of Starkville at the controls, the Lions presently top the NJCAA ranks in team passing offense with an average of 375 yards through the air per outing. EMCC also rates third nationally in team total offense (464.5 yards per game) behind Hinds and Grand Rapids.
Along with Henderson standing second among the national leaders in passing yards per game (299 yds/gm) and third in total offense per contest (297.5 yds/gm), sophomore wide receiver Pat Patterson of Macon is tied for 10th nationally with an average of six catches per outing. The former prep All-American from Noxubee County High School has a dozen receptions on the year for a total of 208 yards (17.3 yds/rec), including a 69-yard touchdown grab last week against Hinds.
Through the first two contests, 10 different Lion pass-catchers have three or more receptions on the young season. Sophomore running back Floyd Graves of Newton County, EMCC’s leading ground-gainer with 130 rushing yards and three touchdowns for the year, also has 10 catches for 90 yards. Former Meridian High School teammates Marcus McQuarley and Hamp Glover follow with eight receptions apiece.
Guided by head coach Ricky Woods, the 11th-ranked Rangers of Northwest Mississippi are 2-0 on the year after claiming a 27-17 road victory over then-No. 13 Pearl River to open the season and most recently posting a 41-26 home triumph over East Central a week ago. Individually, Northwest freshman quarterback Brent Osborn presently ranks ninth nationally in total offense (239.5 yds/gm) and 10th in passing yards (225 yds/gm).
As a team, Northwest currently leads the MACJC ranks with its +6 turnover margin on the year. The Rangers also top the state in surrendering an average of just 43.5 rushing yards per contest. In contrast, EMCC looms near the bottom of the MACJC’s team statistical rankings in both turnover margin (-5) and rushing defense (167.5 yds/gm). On the flipside, Northwest ranks last in passing defense (364.0 yds/gm) within the state, while the Lions rate first nationally by throwing for an average of 375 yards an outing.
Thursday’s EMCC-Northwest divisional opener will be broadcast live by WFCA-FM radio (107.9) with Jason Crowder set to describe the play-by-play action and Glen Beard slated to provide the color analysis. The live broadcast can also be heard online via EMCC’s athletics website – http://athletics.eastms.edu – or by logging onto www.wfca108.com.
Upon concluding their two-game homestand this week against Northwest, the East Mississippi Lions will hit the road the next two weeks with divisional outings at Itawamba (Sept. 23) and Coahoma (Sept. 30).
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 September 2010 )|
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