|No. 8 EMCC Lions outlast No. 4 Northwest 45-42 on the road in Top 10 MACJC divisional clash|
SENATOBIA – Close games continue to be the norm rather than the exception for the East Mississippi Community College football team this season, as the eighth-ranked Lions improved to 3-0 on the year with a hard-fought 45-42 road win over No. 4 Northwest Mississippi Thursday evening at Bobby Franklin Field. The offensive showdown of Top 10 teams marked the year’s division opener for both schools, which have combined for the past three MACJC North Division regular-season championships.
Now 27-8 overall and 17-2 in division play, including back-to-back division titles in 2008 and 2009, under fourth-year head coach Buddy Stephens, the EMCC Lions have now claimed their trio of 2011 victories by a collective total of only 10 points. Two of the wins this year have now come against teams ranked among the Top 5 nationally. Following their season-opening 34-30 home win over then-No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Lions earned a 20-17 road triumph over Hinds a week ago.
Thursday’s matchup of Top 10 squads began with the combatants trading scores early in the contest. The visitors led 10-7 after the opening quarter, with Lacoltan Bester’s 11-yard touchdown grab from Bo Wallace at the 9:16 mark and Taylor Walker’s 28-yard field goal at the end of the period sandwiching Northwest’s 4-yard scoring connection between Marcus Henry and quarterback Ryan Mossakowski.
The preseason MACJC North Division favorites battled to a 14-14 deadlock in the second quarter, giving EMCC a field goal advantage at the intermission. The Rangers briefly claimed their first lead of the game at the 8:57 mark when Mossakowski again hooked up with Henry for a score from 10 yards out for a short-lived 14-10 Northwest lead. Merely 31 ticks later, EMCC sophomore Rodney Davis outran pass coverage down the left sideline and hauled in a 62-yard scoring strike from Wallace to regain the lead for the Lions.
Late in the half, East Mississippi went up 24-14 when Wallace rolled right and threw back across the field to an open Bester for a 2-yard touchdown toss with 2:32 remaining before halftime. However, Northwest took advantage of a critical EMCC personal foul penalty during its subsequent possession and later capitalized with a 3-yard scoring pass play from Mossakowski to Lance Ray with just seven seconds left on the game clock.
The two teams exchanged touchdown runs in the third quarter, with EMCC freshman Antoinne Adkins’ 1-yard touchdown keeper at the 5:40 mark countering Adrian Golden’s 8-yard scoring burst up the middle for Northwest two minutes earlier. Special teams then changed the complexion of the game when Northwest’s Chase Carpenter lined up for a 50-yard field-goal attempt on the quarter’s final play. Waiting in front of the goal posts, EMCC’s Davis fielded the short, line-drive kick five yards deep in the end zone and bolted 100-plus yards to pay dirt the other way to lift the Lions to a 38-28 lead heading into the final period.
The home-standing Rangers fought back in the fourth quarter, aided somewhat by costly turnovers by the visitors down the stretch. Following a Wallace fumble at midfield, Northwest went 50 yards on nine plays to pull to within a field goal on Mossakowski’s 1-yard keeper over right tackle with 9:12 remaining.
The Lions appeared to be going in for the knockout blow on their ensuing drive following Davis’ clutch 51-yard reception from Wallace on a critical third-and-27 play. However, two plays later EMCC turned the ball over inside the 10-yard line with another fumble. As the Rangers crossed midfield on their next drive, East Mississippi’s defensive unit returned the favor and all but sealed the victory when sophomore cornerback Jeremy Cannon scooped up a Northwest fumble and sped 67 yards for the touchdown. In addition to his second fumble recovery of the year, the former West Point High School product had earlier picked off his first collegiate interception in the first quarter.
Despite another 1-yard scoring plunge by Mossakowski with just 1:48 left, the Northwest Rangers fell to 2-1 overall and 0-1 in league play after having their 13-game, regular-season winning streak snapped. With the Lions having prevailed in three of the four contests, the last four EMCC-NWCC meetings have now been decided by an average margin of only six points per game.
Individually, EMCC’s Wallace, a transfer from Arkansas State by way of Pulaski, Tenn., finished the night with 22-of-31 passing for 359 yards and three touchdowns and an interception. Along with his 100-yard missed field-goal return for a touchdown, Davis, from Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, Ala., had two receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown plus a pair of kickoff returns for 104 yards, including a 61-yarder.
After playing two of their first three games on the road this season, the EMCC Lions begin a two-game home stand next Thursday (Sept. 22) by playing host to division rival Itawamba. East Mississippi will then welcome Coahoma the following Thursday (Sept. 29). Kickoff times for both upcoming home contests are set for 7 p.m. at EMCC’s New Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 16 September 2011 )|
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