EMCC Lions rebound with hard-fought win
Ninth-ranked East Mississippi Community College rebounded from last week’s rare home loss to claim a hard-fought 24-16 home victory over Coahoma during Thursday night’s MACCC North Division football action played at Sullivan-Windham Field.
Bouncing back from last week’s 38-21 home setback to No. 4 Northwest Mississippi – only the fourth loss at their current home facility dating back to 2011 – the Lions returned to the win column with the help of a late-game defensive stand and despite being outgained in total offense yardage by the visiting Tigers.
EMCC took the opening kickoff and proceeded to march 60 yards on a dozen plays to grab the early 6-0 lead on Eli Anderson’s 1-yard keeper into the end zone four minutes into the contest. The point-after-touchdown kick attempt was missed.
After the teams traded punts, Coahoma knotted the score late in the opening quarter. Aided by a 56-yard scramble by quarterback Jaden Johnson, the Tigers advanced 84 yards in 11 plays to get on the scoreboard via QJ Skipper’s 3-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds left in the quarter. Coahoma’s PAT try was also missed to send the game into the second quarter tied at 6-6.
The second quarter provided the most scoring as EMCC tallied a pair of touchdowns before Coahoma made it a one-possession game with a score late in the half. The Lions went back on top when Anderson found Stacy Robinson over the middle for a 52-yard catch and run at the 8:27 mark. Cole Arthur converted the PAT kick to make it 13-6.
The two teams then traded touchdowns over the final two minutes of the half to make it an eight-point contest going into intermission. After the Lions opened their largest lead (21-6) of the game on Anderson’s 15-yard touchdown toss to Marc Britt II and subsequent two-point conversion rush by Anderson at the 2:14 mark to cap a nine-play, 68-yard drive, the Tigers responded with a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive in less than two minutes despite a pair of dropped passes and a holding penalty. Following a fourth-and-6 conversion, Johnson then connected with Shemar Crawford on a 30-yard scoring pass with 14 seconds left in the half to trim EMCC’s lead to 21-13 heading into halftime.
Coming out of the break, both teams came up empty during respective seven-play drives to open the scoreless third quarter. The visitors made an initial bid to possibly even the score by going on an eight-play, 70-yard drive that was aided by Johnson’s Following a fourth-and-6 conversion, Johnson then connected with Shemar Crawford on a 30-yard scoring pass with 14 seconds left in the half to trim EMCC’s lead to 21-13 heading into halftime.
Coming out of the break, both teams came up empty during respective seven-play drives to open the scoreless third quarter. The visitors made an initial bid to possibly even the score by going on an eight-play, 70-yard drive that was aided by Johnson’s 39-yard scramble on a third-and-5 play and a facemask penalty called on the Lions a play later. Coahoma was then denied the scoring opportunity when Reggie Neely picked off Johnson’s pass in the end zone and downed the ball for a touchback.
After EMCC couldn’t take advantage of the potentially costly turnover, the teams exchanged made field goals to keep the game at an eight-point margin. The Tigers cut the deficit to five points (21-16) on Josh Eaves’ 22-yard field goal at the 13:03 mark of the fourth quarter to complete a 13-play drive that spanned 87 yards and ate up six minutes on the game clock.
The Lions answered by nearly using up the next four minutes during an 11-play, 65-yard drive before settling for Arthur’s 27-yard field goal to reclaim their eight-point lead (24-16) with 9:10 remaining in the game.
Coahoma made one last bid to put points on the board by managing to create a first-and-10 opportunity from EMCC’s 14-yard line. That’s when the Lions’ defense stepped up in a big way with a stop at the line of scrimmage followed by an incomplete pass and successive sacks of 9 and 12 yards.
Though outgained in total offense yards, 436-407, including 283 net yards rushing by Coahoma, the Lions owned a 317-153 yardage advantage through the air. Anderson, a two-time NJCAA and MACCC Offensive Player of the Week selection this season, completed 29-of-38 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers. Eight different EMCC receivers had three or more catches on the night, led by Kobe Chambers and Josh Aka with five grabs apiece. Duke Miller followed with four receptions.
Mike McGowan was the Lions’ leading rusher with 50 yards on nine attempts.
Coach Buddy Stephens’ EMCC Lions, 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the MACCC North Division, continue division play by traveling to Booneville to take on the Tigers of Northeast Mississippi on Thursday (Oct. 13). Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.