SCOOBA – Ranked second nationally in this week’s NJCAA Top 20 football poll, the Lions of East Mississippi Community College hit the road following a short week to take on Holmes Community College Thursday evening in Goodman. Kickoff for the MACJC North Division contest is set for 7 p.m. at Ras Branch Field on the Holmes campus.
Riding the momentum of Saturday’s NJCAA record-tying 90-7 Homecoming victory over Coahoma, head coach Buddy Stephens’ EMCC Lions are 5-0 overall and 2-0 in division play this season. Now 49-10 (.831) overall and 29-3 (.906) in division contests dating back to the 2008 season, the Lions will be aiming to secure career win No. 50 and division victory No. 30 under Stephens’ six-year guidance this week at Holmes.
Continuing to lead the NJCAA by averaging 67.4 points on offense and allowing just 2.6 points per outing defensively, East Mississippi has outscored its 2013 opposition by a composite scoring total of 337-13 through the first five games. The Lions’ balanced offensive attack is averaging 248.8 rushing yards per game with 19 total scores on the ground along with producing an average of 383 passing yards an outing with 22 total touchdowns through the air. EMCC has also scored five defensive touchdowns on the year with four pick-sixes and a fumble recovery for a score, while the special teams unit has generated a pair of punt returns for scores.
Even with posting a significant 49-point outing in their season opener at Pearl River, the Lions have still managed to increase their scoring totals each week this season. Three successive shutout wins over East Central (59-0), Southwest Mississippi (69-0) and Mississippi Delta (70-0) followed the season-opening 49-6 victory over PRCC.
On the flipside, East Mississippi, which is ranked first nationally for the second straight week by both JCGridiron.com and JCFootball.com, has yet to allow a first-half score on the season. Having outscored their 2013 opponents by a collective margin of 218-0 in opening halves of play, the Lions have only allowed solo third-quarter rushing touchdowns in the opener at Pearl River and this past Saturday against Coahoma.
The Holmes Bulldogs, 1-4 overall on the year and 1-2 within the division, look to have some momentum after picking up their first victory of the year with last week’s solid 58-6 division road win over Mississippi Delta. Guided by third-year head football coach Jeff Koonz, the 2012 MACJC North Division Coach of the Year, Holmes followed season-opening losses to MACJC South Division powers Jones County (54-14) and Mississippi Gulf Coast (36-7) with tough, three-point division setbacks to Northeast Mississippi (17-14) and Itawamba (13-10) before breaking out against Delta.
In the recent gridiron series between these two teams, the EMCC Lions have prevailed in each of the last seven meetings with Holmes spanning back to the 2006 campaign. Since Stephens has been at the EMCC helm, the Lions have knocked off the Bulldogs by an average margin of 29 points per victory over the past five seasons. Most recently, EMCC claimed a 35-0 Homecoming win over Holmes last year in Scooba. Two years ago during the Lions’ 2011 NJCAA national championship season, the home-standing Bulldogs gave the visitors a stern test in Goodman before falling to EMCC by a 56-35 final tally.
EMCC’s football games this season are being broadcast live by WFCA-FM (107.9), out of French Camp, with Jason Crowder and Glen Beard describing the play-by-play action, and John Lyle Briggs serving as the Lions’ sideline reporter. EMCC’s 2013 football radio broadcasts are also being carried live by Meridian’s WKZB-FM (95.1).
Throughout the season, EMCC’s weekly live video-streamed football broadcasts (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/emcc-football) are available in HD by accessing EMCC’s athletics website, www.EMCCAthletics.com. Alternate audio streams of the weekly radio broadcasts are also available at www.wfcafm108.com.