East Mississippi Community College defender E.J. Woods charges in the stop the Northwest quarterback Thursday night.
East Mississippi Community College defender E.J. Woods charges in the stop the Northwest quarterback Thursday night.
From school reports

 SCOOBA – In a battle of top-10 MACJC gridiron powers, the third-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College could not overcome a 20-point halftime deficit while seeing their seven-year, 36-game home winning streak at Sullivan-Windham Field snapped with Thursday’s 56-36 setback to No. 7 Northwest Mississippi Community College.

After trailing, 42-22, at the half, the reigning national and state champions rallied to cut the deficit to six points by the end of the third quarter.  The visiting Rangers responded with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to cement EMCC’s first home setback since dropping a 47-46 decision to Copiah-Lincoln during the 2012 MACJC state semifinals.

During Thursday’s MACJC North Division showdown in which the two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense, 92 points and 57 first downs between them, the Lions took an early 7-0 lead on Keon Moore’s one-yard run that capped a nine-play, 71-yard opening drive.

The momentum continued to stay with EMCC following Shavoke’ Herrington’s third pass interception of the year coming on Northwest’s first possession of the game.  However, the Lions couldn’t take advantage of the turnover when a bad snap from center initiated a three-and-out that ended with Josh Smith’s 40-yard field goal attempt sailing left.

NWCC later scored on an 8-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Jack Walker to Cameron Wynn that evened the score with 2:23 left in the period.

In a drive that started at the end of the opening quarter, EMCC marched 67 yards on nine plays to reclaim the lead.  Moore ran it in from five yards out for the score, but Smith’s point-after-touchdown attempt was blocked.

That lead didn’t last long, however, as the Rangers countered just 35 seconds later with a 70-yard catch and run from Walker to Wynn to put the visitors back on top, 14-13.            

On their next possession, the Lions had to settle for Smith’s 22-yard field goal at the 10:18 mark after their 12-play, 62-yard drive stalled at the goal line.  Connor Neville’s 28-yard pass completion to Jason Brownlee set up a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line, but a negative rushing play and a pair of incomplete passes forced the go-ahead field goal for EMCC, giving them a 16-14 edge.

The lead changed hands one more time as the visitors embarked on a dizzying six-minute stretch where they turned a 16-14 deficit into a 42-16 advantage with four consecutive touchdowns. 

Following Northwest’s five-play, 61-yard scoring drive that was capped by Chris Calvert’s 1-yard burst to make it a 21-16 contest with 8:43 left in the half, back-to-back turnovers by EMCC helped ignite the Rangers’ scoring surge.

The Lions managed to put an end to NWCC’s scoring blitz late in the half when freshman quarterback Jamari Jones connected with Brownlee on a 24-yard scoring pass during the half’s final minute to make it a 42-22 game and give EMCC some momentum heading into the much-needed break.

The Rangers missed a 27-yard field goal to start the third quarter. The Lions responded by marching 80 yards on 13 plays in five-plus minutes to open the second-half scoring with Neville’s 24-yard touchdown toss to Brownlee in the back right corner of the end zone.  Smith’s successful PAT trimmed the deficit to 42-29.

The Lions got the ball back on the kickoff. EMCC proceeded to make it a one-possession game when  Zias Perryman scored on a three-yard scoring run at the 1:42 mark of the third quarter.    

The visitors controlled the final period much like the Lions dominated the third quarter.  While EMCC only managed to cross midfield one time during the final 15 minutes of play, Northwest scored twice on touchdown runs by Jaquerrious Williams.

Statistically for the EMCC Lions, Neville finished the night 31-of-56 through the air for 288 yards, a touchdown and an interception.  On the receiving end, Brownlee continued his stellar play by posting career highs with 11 catches for 147 yards and a pair of 24-yard touchdown grabs.  The West Point product now has four 100-yard receiving games in six outings on the year with at least one touchdown catch in every contest. 

East Mississippi was outgained, 289-129 on the ground by the Rangers.  Moore led the way for EMCC with 58 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 11 carries.

Coach Buddy Stephens’ EMCC Lions, 4-2 overall and 2-1 in division play, begin the final third of the MACJC’s regular-season slate by heading to Goodman to meet the Holmes Bulldogs (2-4, 2-1) on Thursday.  Kickoff at Ras Branch Field is set for 6:30 p.m. on the Holmes campus.