|No. 2 EMCC welcomes No. 5 Gulf Coast to Scooba for Saturday's state championship gridiron battle|
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at EMCC’s New Sullivan-Windham Field.
SCOOBA – In a classic rematch between national Top 5 teams with state bragging rights on the line and national championship implications in the mix, the second-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College (10-0) will play host to No. 5 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (9-1) Saturday afternoon on the Scooba campus to determine the 2011 state football champions of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC).
Saturday’s MACJC state championship contest from Scooba will be broadcast live by WFCA-FM radio (107.9), out of French Camp, with Jason Crowder and Glen Beard set to describe the play-by-play action and John Lyle Briggs serving as the Lions’ sideline reporter. The live video-streamed broadcast will be available at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/emcc-football and can be accessed through EMCC’s athletics website - http://athletics.eastms.edu. An alternate audio stream of the radio broadcast will also be available by logging onto www.wfcafm108.com. In addition, NJCAATV will be streaming the state title game live online at www.njcaatv.ihigh.com.
Saturday’s EMCC-MGCCC rematch will pit the past two MACJC state football champions, with the Bulldogs claiming last year’s championship over Copiah-Lincoln and the Lions capturing East Mississippi’s first-ever state football title with their memorable 75-71 shootout victory over Gulf Coast during the 2009 state title game played in Scooba. These two inter-divisional football rivals also kicked off the current campaign and opened EMCC’s new $4.7 million, 5,000-seat Sullivan-Windham Field back on Sept. 1, as the home-standing Lions downed then-No. 2 MGCCC, 34-30, en route to recording their first undefeated regular season in the school’s storied football history.
The winner of Saturday’s MACJC gridiron title bout will garner an automatic invitation to compete in the Mississippi Bowl, set for Sunday, Dec. 4, at Biloxi (Miss.) Indians Stadium. With six other post-Thanksgiving NJCAA postseason bowl games on the agenda, the EMCC-MGCCC victor could very well play themselves into the national championship picture. These half-dozen bowl games will be able to invite and announce their selections on Tuesday (Nov. 15) at noon CST.
Ranked second nationally in the NJCAA Top 20 national poll for the second time in three seasons, head coach Buddy Stephens’ 10-0 EMCC Lions presently trail top-ranked Arizona Western College by five voting points (137-132). The undefeated (10-0) AWC Matadors, who will serve as hosts for this year’s El Toro Bowl (Dec. 3 in Yuma, Ariz.), take on Mesa CC (1-9) Saturday for the second time this season.
Other teams still in the NJCAA football title hunt include third-ranked Butler Community College (9-1) of Kansas, who will play host to No. 8 Hutchinson (Kan.) CC (8-2) in Sunday’s championship game of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, along with fourth-ranked and undefeated (10-0) Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College.
With three MACJC North Division championships in four years, the Lions of East Mississippi have compiled an impressive 34-8 (.810) collective overall record during Stephens’ four seasons at the EMCC helm. Two of those eight losses have come at the hands of Mississippi Gulf Coast. Two years ago, the Lions avenged their 43-26 regular-season home setback to MGCCC with their 2009 state title game triumph in Scooba. Last season, the Bulldogs claimed a 40-21 home victory over EMCC in the season-opener played in Perkinston.
As this year’s East Mississippi squad bids to match the 2009 club’s school-record, 11-win total in Saturday’s state title game, EMCC freshman quarterback Bo Wallace is on target to break two single-season NJCAA records this season as a leading candidate for NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors. The former Arkansas State University redshirt needs 232 passing yards to eclipse the current national mark of 4,001 passing yards set by Marc Dunn of Ricks College in 2000. Wallace, from Giles County High School in Pulaski, Tenn., is also 114 yards shy of surpassing the current NJCAA season standard of 4,075 yards of total offense held by Will Hall of Northwest Mississippi CC (2000). For the season, Wallace has thrown for 3,770 yards on 276-of-412 (67%) passing with 42 touchdowns, while having compiled 3,962 yards of total offense, including five rushing touchdowns, on the year.
On the receiving end of Wallace’s aerials, the Lions boast four sophomore pass-catchers with 40 or more receptions apiece for the season. Former Kemper County standout Lacoltan Bester ranks among the Top 5 nationally with 59 receptions, 841 receiving yards and 12 touchdown catches. Former Meridian High School teammates JJ Harbin and Hamp Glover have 45 and 40 receptions, respectively, and have combined for 13 touchdown catches, while Rodney Davis (Millbrook, Ala.) is averaging just under 20 yards per catch on 41 receptions with nine scoring grabs.
With a sophomore-laden offensive line paving the way, EMCC’s balanced offensive attack, averaging 47.2 points per game on the year with five outings of 54 points or more over the last six games, also features 1,000-yard rusher Rodriguez Moore in the backfield. The freshman from Bastrop, La., ranks fifth nationally with 1,124 rushing yards on the season after putting together four straight 100-yard performances down the stretch. Along with 200-yard rushing efforts during the regular season against Holmes (214) and Hinds (202), Moore also has 35 receptions for the year.
East Mississippi’s stout defensive unit is headlined by sophomore defensive end Denico Autry, who leads the way with 72 total stops (46 solos & 26 assists) on the year, including eight sacks and 11 other tackles for loss for a collective total of 90 yards lost. The NJCAA All-America candidate from Albemarle, N.C., has also been credited with 39 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a pair of pass breakups.
Leading the Lions’ linebacker corps has been sophomore Michael Pack, of Meridian, with 68 total stops (48 solos & 20 assists) and three pass interceptions. In EMCC’s defensive secondary, freshmen Shaquille Fluker and Jason Yarbor, of Meridian, have combined for 111 total tackles, four pass interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Freshman Justin Cox, a Mississippi State signee from West Point, tops all Lion defenders with five pass interceptions, including three picks in his collegiate debut against Gulf Coast, while fellow West Point High School product Jeremy Cannon has been credited with a team-high 11 pass breakups along with eight tackles for loss and a pair of fumble recoveries.
Since dropping their 34-30, season-opening decision at EMCC, the Bulldogs of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College have reeled off nine consecutive victories, including last week’s 20-17 overtime home triumph over Northeast Mississippi in their playoff opener. Head coach Steve Campbell’s MGCCC squad clinched the MACJC South Division’s No. 1 seed by claiming a 35-26 home win over Hinds during the regular-season finale played in Perkinston.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 November 2011 )|
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