|No. 3 EMCC Lions step out of division play by traveling to Pearl River for Saturday afternoon game|
Amidst homecoming activities on the PRCC campus, Saturday’s kickoff at Dobie Holden Stadium is set for 3 p.m.SCOOBA – The third-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College will step out of division play for the final time this regular season by heading to Poplarville to take on the Wildcats of Pearl River CC Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s non-divisional clash looks to feature a head-to-head matchup of two of the nation’s top junior college quarterbacks, as well as marking a homecoming of sorts for EMCC head football coach Buddy Stephens.
EMCC freshman quarterback Bo Wallace, a two-time NJCAA Offensive Player of the Week this season, and PRCC sophomore signal-caller Melvin German presently rank first and second, respectively, among the national statistical leaders in both passing offense and total offense. Wallace, redshirted a year ago at Arkansas State University, leads all NJCAA quarterbacks with 2,356 passing yards and 24 touchdowns thrown while completing 70 percent (169-of-243) of his passes this season. Wallace is averaging an NJCAA-best 392.7 passing yards and 404.8 yards of total offense an outing on the year, while German follows second nationally with per-game averages of 347.2 yards through the air and 370.8 yards of total offense.
Stephens, now 30-8 overall in his fourth year as head coach of the EMCC Lions, will be making his first visit to Poplarville with his East Mississippi football squad since leaving Pearl River CC in 2007 following his seven-year stint (2001-07) as the Wildcats’ co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Stephens and current EMCC associate head coach/defensive coordinator William Jones previously served as assistant coaches on Tim Hatten’s Pearl River staff that directed the Wildcats to four consecutive MACJC state football championships and four straight top five national finishes (2003-06), including an NJCAA national title in 2004.
In addition, Stephens was a two-year letterman (1987-88) as an offensive lineman at Pearl River CC under former head coach Mike Nelson. Prior to moving onto Delta State University, Stephens collected MACJC All-State South Division honors as a sophomore and earned a roster spot in the 1988 MACJC All-Star Classic.
Stephens’ current EMCC contingent features a balanced, high-scoring offensive attack behind a veteran offensive line. While Wallace continues to put up impressive numbers week after week, the NJCAA All-American candidate has seven different receivers with 12 or more catches on the year. Kemper County’s Lacoltan Bester ranks 13th nationally with a team-leading 33 receptions to go along with his club-best 513 receiving yards and seven touchdown grabs. Fellow sophomores Hamp Glover and JJ Harbin, former Meridian High School teammates, follow with 28 and 24 catches, respectively.
The Lions’ solid ground game, anchored by a sophomore-laden offensive line, is paced by freshman running back Rodriguez Moore. The Bastrop, La., native stands 11th nationally with an average of 93.5 rushing yards an outing.
As a team, the Lions are averaging 44.3 points per game for the season, including an average of 53 points an outing over their last four contests. The team’s high-powered offense has EMCC off to the program’s first 6-0 start since Hall of Fame head coach Bob “Bull” Sullivan’s 1964 Lions contingent opened with eight straight wins on the way to a 9-2 campaign.
On the other side of the ball, EMCC’s stellar defensive unit most recently allowed only 47 rushing yards and picked off three passes in last Saturday’s 28-point victory at Northeast Mississippi. On special teams, sophomore placekicker Taylor Walker, of Northwest Rankin High School, ranks fifth nationally among kickers with an MACJC-leading 50 points, including a perfect 35-of-35 on point-after-touchdown attempts.
The Lions and Wildcats have split a pair of gridiron meetings since Stephens was hired at EMCC in 2007. A year ago during East Mississippi’s homecoming, the Lions claimed a 42-36 victory over Pearl River. In 2008, the visiting Wildcats won by a similar score of 42-35 in the semifinals of the MACJC state football playoffs held in Scooba. Saturday will mark the Lions’ first football action in Poplarville since the 2004 season when the Wildcats posted a 40-0 shutout victory over visiting EMCC.
The Wildcats of Pearl River are 4-2 overall on the year and 3-1 in MACJC South Division play after downing Copiah-Lincoln, 26-5, last week in Poplarville. Also with wins over East Central, Southwest Mississippi and Itawamba this year, PRCC’s losses have been on the road against rival Mississippi Gulf Coast, 17-10 two weeks ago in Perkinston, and Northwest Mississippi, 56-55 in overtime to open the season in Senatobia.
The audio-streamed broadcast of Saturday’s EMCC-PRCC contest from Poplarville is slated to be made available through WFCA-FM’s website facilities at www.wfcafm108.com with Glen Beard and Kevin Simmons set to handle the play-by-play duties and John Lyle Briggs serving as the Lions’ sideline reporter. The game can also be heard online by logging onto EMCC’s athletics website at http://athletics.eastms.edu.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 October 2011 )|
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