|No. 2 EMCC to meet No. 1 Arizona Western in El Toro Bowl to decide NJCAA Championship|
Only this time the matchup pitting the No. 2 EMCC Lions and top-ranked AWC Matadors will be for the 2011 NJCAA Football Championship.SCOOBA – For the second time in three years, East Mississippi Community College’s reward for winning the MACJC state football championship will be a December bowl game date with perennial powerhouse Arizona Western College.
On Tuesday, EMCC officials accepted an invitation to meet Arizona Western in the inaugural El Toro Bowl – presented by Time Warner Cable – to be played Saturday, Dec. 3, at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Yuma, Ariz. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. MT (3:30 p.m. CT).
Two years ago in East Mississippi’s first bowl game appearance since 1963, the Lions, ranked fifth nationally at the time, claimed a 27-24 victory over then-No. 6 Arizona Western in the 2009 Mississippi Bowl played in Biloxi. With the previous victory over AWC in Biloxi’s second annual bowl event, head coach Buddy Stephens’ 2009 EMCC squad established a new all-time school standard for most wins in a season by capping an 11-1 campaign. That year also featured the Lions’ memorable 75-71 shootout win (in regulation) over Mississippi Gulf Coast to capture their first-ever MACJC state football championship.
On the heels of Saturday’s 42-17 state title game triumph over Gulf Coast, Stephens’ current EMCC team will head to Arizona looking to totally rewrite the school’s record book by aiming for a program-best 12th victory and school-first undefeated football season. With two state titles and three MACJC North Division regular-season crowns in four years under Stephens’ guidance, the Lions have compiled an impressive 35-8 (.814) overall record dating back to the 2008 season.
As was the case in 2009 when the two teams met in the Mississippi Bowl, this year’s EMCC-AWC bowl matchup figures to feature a run-oriented Matador offense versus the Lions’ top-rated passing attack. Under the quarterbacking leadership of NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year candidate Bo Wallace, East Mississippi continues to lead the NJCAA in team passing offense and total team offense, averaging 380.5 yards through the air and 553.2 yards of total offense per game on the year. With sophomore running back Damien Williams leading the way as the nation’s top rusher (162.3 yards per game), Arizona Western is ranked fifth nationally as a team in averaging 246 rushing yards per contest for the season.
Guided by fourth-year head coach Tom Minnick, the Matadors of Arizona Western College have registered their first-ever, 11-win season, including an 8-0 league record and third consecutive Western States Football League title. Most recently, AWC claimed a 45-13 victory over Mesa Community College this past Saturday. The 11-0 Matadors also own wins this season over currently ranked league foes Snow College (14-7), Eastern Arizona College (48-9), Glendale Community College (56-17), and New Mexico Military Institute (62-20).
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 November 2011 )|
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