|No. 3 EMCC downs No. 14 Hinds 55-24 in playoff opener; Lions to host Gulf Coast for state title|
SCOOBA – The third-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College parlayed a suffocating second-half defensive effort along with another seven-touchdown passing performance from quarterback Bo Wallace into a 55-24 home victory over 14th-ranked Hinds CC Saturday afternoon in the opening round of 2011 MACJC state football playoffs played at New Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus.
Now with six wins over teams either currently ranked or that have been ranked during the season, head coach Buddy Stephens’ 10-0 EMCC Lions will play host to sixth-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast on Saturday (Nov. 12) for the state football championship of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC). Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. in Scooba. The reigning state champion Bulldogs of Gulf Coast advanced to next Saturday’s title game via a 20-17 overtime home triumph over No. 17 Northeast Mississippi.
Two years ago in Scooba, East Mississippi captured the school’s first-ever state football championship by claiming a memorable 75-71 shootout victory over visiting Mississippi Gulf Coast in regulation. Earlier this year (Sept. 1), the Lions opened their new 5,000-seat football facility by kicking off the current season with a 34-30 home win over then-No. 2 Gulf Coast.
In Saturday’s playoff opener between EMCC and Hinds, the two teams alternated scores throughout the first half with each team scoring one touchdown in the opening quarter and both squads lighting up the scoreboard three times apiece in the second period. The halftime score of 27-24 in favor of the home team was a true indicator of the closeness of the first 30 minutes of playoff football.
However, the second half belonged entirely to the home-standing Lions mainly because of their defensive prowess. The tone of the second stanza was set on the opening drive of the half when EMCC went three-and-out with three straight incomplete passes to begin the period. The momentum quickly turned back around as the Lions were able to maintain possession of the ball when EMCC punter Joe Weatherly was the recipient of a roughing-the-kicker penalty. EMCC finished off the drive to move ahead 34-24 on Rodney Davis’ 11-yard touchdown catch from Wallace at the 12:41 mark.
Handed a double-digit lead by one of the NJCAA’s most potent offensive attacks, the East Mississippi defense proceeded to take over the contest beginning with Hinds’ initial drive of the second half. After gaining nearly 200 yards of total offense in the opening half, the Eagles were stymied on each of their first five possessions of the second stanza.
After their opening second-half possession, which started at their own 1-yard line following a thunderous defensive hit on the ensuing kickoff return attempt, gained 17 yards on five plays, the visitors were held to four consecutive three-play possessions. On those four possessions combined, the EMCC defense limited Hinds to -22 yards of total offense on a dozen plays, which included a pair of 6-yard sacks and five other negative-yardage plays. Freshman safety Justin Cox also picked off his team-leading fifth interception of the season for the Lions during their defensive lockdown stretch.
Meanwhile, East Mississippi’s vaunted offensive juggernaut generated three more touchdowns - an additional score in the third quarter and two more touchdowns in the fourth period – to account for the final outcome. With 4:38 remaining in the third quarter, Wallace hit sophomore Hamp Glover from 4 yards out for their second scoring connection of the afternoon. The tandem had earlier hooked up on a 21-yard scoring toss with 41.6 seconds left in the first half to give the Lions their first lead of the day.
Wallace, who finished the day 36-of-56 through the air for 360 yards, added his sixth and seventh touchdown passes of the game in the final period with a 2-yard toss to JJ Harbin at the 13:39 mark and a 7-yard aerial to Termarcus Conner with 7:52 left in the contest. Wallace, a former redshirt at Arkansas State by way of Pulaski, Tenn., now has 42 touchdown passes on the year, including prior back-to-back, seven-touchdown passing efforts against Coahoma and Northeast Mississippi.
On the afternoon, Wallace found 10 different receivers, led by Lacoltan Bester, of Kemper County, with eight receptions for 65 yards, including his team-leading 12th scoring grab of the year coming on a 5-yarder with 6:37 remaining in the first half. Freshman running back Rodrigues Moore was on the receiving end of seven passes, along with surpassing the 1,000-yard mark on the ground for the season. The Bastrop, La., native registered his fourth straight game with 100-plus rushing yards – and fifth of the season – by churning out 131 rushing yards on 20 carries against Hinds.
EMCC’s other opening-half scores came on Antoinne Adkins’ 1-yard keeper with 13.6 seconds left in the opening period and Wallace’s first touchdown pass of the day – a 23-yard strike and dash down the left sideline by sophomore receiver Jeremy Reed – at the 11:34 mark of the second quarter. Both early scores by the Lions evened up the contest at 7-all and 14-all, respectively, for the game’s only deadlocks.
Hinds, which fell to 7-3 on the year including a 20-17 home loss to East Mississippi back on Sept. 8, got on the scoreboard first in the playoff opener with a 1-yard burst by quarterback by Deon Anthony. Running back Jeremy Palmer, who gained 122 of his 128 rushing yards in the first half, added a 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. With all of their scoring coming prior to intermission, the Eagles reclaimed their first-half lead, 21-14, on a 33-yard scoring pass play from Anthony to Trevon Chatman midway through the second quarter.
The Lions were unable to claim a third straight tie in the game when placekicker Taylor Walker’s point-after-touchdown attempt sailed right following the Wallace-to-Bester scoring connection in the second quarter. Kicker Kyle Williams increased the visitors’ lead to 24-20 with a 45-yard field goal at the 3:01 mark, but Hinds’ final lead was short-lived as Glover’s first of two touchdown receptions on the day put EMCC on top for the first time and for good, 27-24, heading into halftime.
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 05 November 2011 )|
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