|No. 11 Northwest Mississippi snaps EMCC's 15-game division win streak with 25-19 road victory|
SCOOBA, Miss. – The home-standing East Mississippi Lions had their 15-game MACJC North Division winning streak snapped Thursday evening by dropping a 25-19 decision to 11th-ranked Northwest Mississippi at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus.
Previously unbeaten in division play since Buddy Stephens took over EMCC’s head coaching duties in 2008, the two-time defending MACJC North Division champions had most recently fallen in division play by a 14-0 tally at Northwest Mississippi during the 2007 campaign. After winning their last three division games of 2007, the Lions posted back-to-back 6-0 divisional marks the past two years.
Following a three-and-out possession by the visitors, East Mississippi took the early lead in Thursday’s divisional opener for both teams. Earning his first collegiate start, sophomore running back Trayshun King picked up 44 yards on the ground during EMCC’s initial drive of the night. The Columbia native capped an 11-play, 87-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to give the home team an early 7-0 lead four minutes into the contest after Taylor Walker’s successful point-after-touchdown conversion.
The Lions couldn’t take advantage of a Chris Bertucci pick of a Brent Osborn pass within the red zone by going three-and-out on their next series. After getting the ball at midfield following a 28-yard punt, Northwest went 51 yards in six plays to knot the contest at 7-7. Osborn’s 1-yard sneak and Kevin Buford’s subsequent PAT evened the score with 3:52 remaining in the first quarter.
Though they weren’t slowed by interceptions or fumbles as they were a week ago in their 50-42 home setback to Hinds, the Lions were hindered this night by five turnovers on downs. When EMCC sophomore quarterback Brad Henderson was stopped at midfield for no gain on a fourth-and-one attempt, the Rangers proceeded to cover 49 yards on 10 plays to move ahead 14-7 on Calvin Malone’s 1-yard burst and resulting PAT one minute into the second quarter.
The two teams exchanged successful field goals, as Buford’s 20-yarder at the 3:25 mark was matched by Walker’s 25-yard boot with three ticks left in the half, to account for the 17-10 Northwest advantage at the intermission.
East Mississippi wasted little time getting on the scoreboard following halftime. Rodney Davis’ 55-yard kickoff return set up Henderson’s 34-yard touchdown pass to former Noxubee County All-American Pat Patterson. However, Walker’s point-after attempt failed, and the Lions still trailed 17-16 one minute into the second half.
After an empty possession by the visitors was keyed by a Devin Hawkins 7-yard sack of Osborn, EMCC maintained its momentum and took a 19-17 lead with 8:37 left in the third quarter on Walker’s 33-yard field goal. The Rangers tried to reclaim the advantage on their next series, but Buford’s 31-yard field-goal try sailed left with 6:54 remaining in the quarter.
Perhaps the turning point of the contest came during the closing seconds of the third quarter. Following another turnover on downs by the Lions, Northwest seemingly went ahead 20-17 on a 26-yard field goal by Buford with 15 seconds left in the period. However, EMCC was flagged for running into the kicker on the attempt. The Rangers opted to take the points off the board and consequently take their chances on first-and-goal from the 4-yard line. The gutsy call paid off for the visitors, as Jay Jones bolted into the end zone from 4 yards out on the next play from scrimmage. NWCC increased its lead to 25-19 on Osborn’s successful 2-point conversion pass to Xavier Lee.
As with last week’s high-scoring EMCC encounter against Hinds, neither team could manage a score during the final period of play. The Lions’ defensive unit came up huge early in the quarter with Bertucci and Gary Brown providing clutch back-to-back stops on respective third-and-one and fourth-and-one attempts. Unfortunately, another turnover on downs resulted for the Lions after an eight-play drive ended on Northwest’s 37-yard line.
After being pinned on their own 1-yard line following a timely 40-yard, coffin-corner punt by Buford, the Lions put together an efficient time-consuming drive. Following five first downs, EMCC’s potential point-producing march down field stalled on the 30-yard line and ended with yet another turnover on downs with just over two minutes remaining in the contest.
Northwest put the game away by staying on the ground for the final 2:17, as backs Malone and Jones both eclipsed the century mark with 106 and 105 rushing yards, respectively, on the night. Osborn was 14-of-25 through the air for 132 yards and one interception.
Henderson, a former Starkville High School product, completed 25-of-46 passes for 205 yards and the one touchdown. Patterson led all receivers with six catches for 68 yards and a score, while King picked up a career-best 103 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
East Mississippi closes out the month of September by hitting the road to meet divisional foes Itawamba (Sept. 23) and Coahoma (Sept. 30) during the coming weeks, before returning home to play host to Northeast Mississippi on Thursday, Oct. 7.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 17 September 2010 )|
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