2-0 EMCC Lions roll over Southwest
SUMMIT – In their first road test of the season, the Lions of East Mississippi Community College passed with flying colors by posting a decisive 49-7 victory over the Southwest Mississippi Bears Thursday night’s MACCC football action.
For the second straight week, EMCC’s defensive unit limited the opposition to a lone score, while the Lions’ well-balanced offense combined for nearly 500 yards of total offense and again scored in all four quarters in moving to 2-0 on the year.
The game’s initial tally and the first of seven touchdowns scored by the Lions was set up by a three-and-out forced by EMCC’s stellar defense. The Lions went 49 yards on five plays to move ahead 7-0 at the 8:09 mark on a four-yard scoring run by Zias Perryman. The score followed a 20-yard rush by Arkansas transfer Montae Spivey.
In scoring their only points of the game, the home-standing Bears benefitted from back-to-back defensive interference penalties. They knotted the score on quarterback Luke Alleman’s 14-yard keeper up the middle with two minutes left in the opening quarter.
The Lions responded by taking control of the contest with a 21-point second quarter. In the first play of the quarter, EMCC’s Jamari Jones capped an eight-play, 61-yard drive by hitting Spivey coming out of the backfield for an eight-yard scoring toss to make it a 14-7 contest.
The Lions then put together their longest drive of the night by marching 83 yards on eight plays highlighted by Jones’ 46-yard pass completion to Cameron Hines on the drive’s second play. The Lions primarily kept the ball on the ground the rest of the possession, as Perryman powered in from three yards out for his second score of the evening to extend the EMCC lead to 21-7 with 8:15 left.
Utilizing their two-minute drill to close out the half, the Lions mostly stayed with their passing game in capping a nine-play, 58-yard drive at the 1:03 mark on Jones’ 20-yard scoring strike to Tonorris Brookins II. Peyton Rodgers’ fourth of seven successful point-after-touchdown attempts on the night made it a 28-7 contest heading into the break.
Following intermission, another three-and-out forced by EMCC’s stingy defense led to a nine-play, 57-yard scoring drive that resulted in a 9-yard touchdown toss by Jones to running back KJ Lawrence. Another accurate PAT by Rodgers lengthened the Lions’ lead to 35-7 with 10:32 left in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter as the Bears were threatening within the red zone, EMCC sophomore linebacker Brandon Lairy stepped in front of a Christopher Roberson pass attempt at the 10-yard line and returned the interception 48 yards. Four consecutive pass completions later, Jones again found Brookins, who caught the ball at the 25-yard line, juked a would-be defender and bolted down the right sideline to complete a 35-yard, catch-and-run score at the 1:46 mark that increased the margin to 42-7.
EMCC’s longest play of the evening came at the beginning of the final quarter and put the MACCC’s mandated 38-point mercy rule into effect. Jones hit Zach Patterson over the middle for a 67-yard scoring pass.
Jones connected on 29-of-46 passing attempts for 347 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Having completed passes to 10 different receivers, Jones’ top target on the night was Starkville’s Joshua Aka, who caught nine passes for 72 receiving yards. Patterson followed with five grabs for 85 yards, including the 67-yarder to close out the game’s scoring.
Defensively as a team, East Mississippi recorded 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage against Southwest, including five quarterback sacks. Individually, Tait Deer led the way for the Lions with 10 total tackles, four TFLs and 1.5 sacks.
Thursday’s contest in Summit also featured the first head-to-head meeting between 14th-year EMCC head coach Buddy Stephens and first-year Southwest head coach Cliff Collins, who previously served as the Lions’ defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach under Stephens’ guidance.
The 2-0 EMCC Lions will begin MACCC North Division play on Thursday (Sept. 16) by traveling to Moorhead to take on the 2-0 Trojans of Mississippi Delta Community College. Kickoff at Jim Randall Stadium is set for 7 p.m. on the MDCC campus.