No. 6 EMCC remains undefeated with big division win
Fast start spurs No. 6 EMCC Lions to key 30-21 road win over No. 13 Northwest
SENATOBIA – After scoring the game’s first 27 points, the sixth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College held on for a key 30-21 road victory over No. 13 Northwest Mississippi during Thursday’s MACCC North Division clash played at Bobby Franklin Field.
Entering the game as the NJCAA’s No. 4 scoring offense (46.5 ppg) on the year, the Lions’ 20-point opening quarter began with Jamari Jones’ 19-yard scoring pass to Zias Perryman coming out of the backfield at the 8:52 mark. The point-after-touchdown attempt was unsuccessful.
Aided by a costly Northwest penalty called on a third-and-long play deep in EMCC territory, the Lions proceeded to go 74 yards on the next three plays for their second score of the quarter. Following Perryman’s 26-yard rumble and Jones’ 12-yard keeper, EMCC’s sophomore quarterback found Jontarius Henderson in the end zone from 36 yards out to make the score 13-0 with 4:27 remaining in the quarter.
The visitors closed out the first-quarter scoring by taking advantage of an opportunity created by their defense immediately following a big play during Northwest’s ensuing kickoff return. After Keyon Fordham’s 59-yard kickoff return to EMCC’s 39-yard line, Trey Laing stripped NWCC quarterback Michael Hiers of the ball from behind on the next play from scrimmage and the fumble was recovered by Devonyal Lofton near midfield. Five plays later at the 2:08 mark, Jones scored on an 8-yard keeper and Peyton Rodgers’ subsequent PAT was good to increase the lead to 20-0.
The Lions maintained their momentum into the second quarter. Set up by a 45-yard catch and run by Arkansas transfer Montae Spivey, who sped down the right sideline before cutting across the field to the 18-yard line, EMCC’s seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive was capped off by Ethan Conner’s 2-yard keeper to extend the margin to 27-0 with 9:11 still remaining in the first half.
The Rangers responded on their next possession by going 70 yards on nine plays to get on the scoreboard at the 5:41 mark when Jaquerrious Williams went untouched into the end zone from 11 yards out to cut the deficit to 27-7.
Following the intermission, the only scoring of the third quarter came on the half’s opening drive when Northwest receiver D.T. Sheffield hauled in Hiers’ 3-yard touchdown toss over the shoulder in the back left corner of the end zone. Eli Hamlin’s successful PAT completed a 10-play, 73-yard drive to make it a brand new ball game at 27-14 with 9:53 remaining in the quarter.
Later in the quarter, the Lions couldn’t take advantage of a 12-play drive, highlighted by a 47-yard run by Perryman, which consumed nearly five minutes on the game clock. Rodgers’ 32-yard field goal attempt hit off the upright during the final minute of play to keep it a 13-point contest heading into the final quarter.
In an attempt to make it a one-score game, almost half of the fourth quarter was taken up by Northwest’s 16-play, 68-yard drive that ate up seven minutes on the game clock before stalling on EMCC’s 12-yard line.
Following the Lions’ ensuing three-and-out possession and a 23-yard punt midway through the quarter, Northwest took advantage of the excellent field position at EMCC’s 31-yard line. Four plays later at the 5:38 mark, Hiers hit Sheffield again in the left side of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown toss that cut it to a one-score game (27-21) and gave the Rangers their third straight unanswered touchdown.
The visitors immediately responded on their next possession when Jones hit Kevin Barnett around midfield for a 55-yard catch and run to the 18-yard line. The big play set up Rodgers’ 34-yard field goal that stretched it back to a two-score contest with 2:53 remaining in the game.
EMCC’s defense, which entered the contest ranked second within the NJCAA ranks in scoring defense (6.0 ppg), then essentially sealed the deal with less than two minutes left on the game clock with Lofton’s strip sack of Hiers around midfield that was recovered by Elijah Davis.
Statistically for East Mississippi, Perryman rushed for a career-high 129 yards on 18 carries, including runs of 47, 26 and 19 yards. He also had two catches for 37 yards, highlighted by his 19-yard touchdown reception to begin the game’s scoring.
EMCC’s Jones completed 19-of-33 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns, while picking up 30 rushing yards and a score on nine attempts.
Jones once again evenly spread around his 19 completions to 10 different receivers. Josh Aka and Henderson led the way with three catches apiece for 50 and 41 yards, respectively.
Coach Buddy Stephens’ 5-0 EMCC Lions, 3-0 in MACCC North Division play, return to the Scooba campus for two consecutive home division games. After playing host to the Northeast Mississippi Tigers on Saturday (Oct. 9), the Lions will stay at home to welcome the Coahoma Tigers the following Thursday (Oct. 14). EMCC’s upcoming Homecoming contest against Northeast will kick off at 2 p.m. at Sullivan-Windham Field.