SCOOBA – The fifth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College are set to complete the non-division, regular-season portion of their 2013 football schedule by entertaining the visiting Bears of Southwest Mississippi Community College Thursday night on the Scooba campus. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field.
Having outscored their first two MACJC South Division foes by a combined margin of 108-6, head coach Buddy Stephens’ 2-0 EMCC Lions followed their season-opening 49-6 victory at Pearl River Community College with last Thursday’s 59-0 home triumph over traditional gridiron rival East Central Community College. In the two wins, the Lions have owned halftime leads of 35-0 against PRCC and 38-0 versus ECCC.
Along with ranking second nationally to Navarro College by averaging 54 points per game through Week 2, the Lions also stand second (to Iowa Western CC) with a per-game average of 547 yards of total offense on the year. EMCC’s balanced offensive attack has produced an average of 300 passing yards and 247 rushing yards an outing early on this season. A week ago, the 334 rushing yards compiled against East Central rank second behind only the 339 yards generated by EMCC on the ground at Coahoma last season for single-game school standards set during the Stephens coaching era.
Ranking as the largest victory margin for a Stephens-coached EMCC team, the 59 points last week against East Central tied for the third-most points scored in a game by the Lions since Stephens assumed his head coaching duties prior to the 2008 season. The 59-0 blanking of the visiting Warriors also marked the sixth shutout victory for the Lions over the past five-plus seasons and the fourth shutout for EMCC in the last nine games played dating back to last season.
Along with EMCC’s continued success on the offensive side of the ball, the Lions’ defensive unit has been equally impressive stopping the opposition. Having allowed an average of just 151 yards of total offense per outing through the first two weeks, the 88 yards of total offense (49 rushing & 39 passing) managed by East Central last week were the fewest yards surrendered in a game by a Stephens-guided EMCC club. In addition to sharing the NJCAA team lead by giving up just six total points thus far, the Lions are also tied for fourth nationally with six pass interceptions already this season.
Individually, EMCC sophomore quarterback Dontreal Pruitt ranks sixth nationally with an average of 277.5 passing yards per game on 36-of-60 (60%) accuracy and six touchdowns through the air. A dozen Lion receivers have caught at least one pass on the year, led by C.J. Bates and Brandon Bell with six grabs each. On the ground, Todd Mays (162 yards), Lakenderic Thomas (139) and Preston Baker (117) have all hit the century mark for rushing yardage for the season.
Defensively, EMCC sophomore safety Allen Sentimore is tied for second among the NJCAA ranks with three pass interceptions already this season. A.J. Stamps’ two picks in the Lions’ season-opening win at Pearl River have him tied for fifth nationally with several others. As a collective unit, East Mississippi has made 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage through the first two contests, highlighted by three sacks (for 28 yards lost) by Jimmie Gipson III during last week’s home victory over East Central.
Guided by first-year head coach Tucker Peavey, Southwest Mississippi is 1-1 on the young season after dropping a 40-6 home decision to Itawamba last week. The Bears kicked off the 2013 campaign with a come-from-behind 19-15 road win over Northwest Mississippi.
A year ago in the first gridiron meeting between the two teams since 2007, the top-ranked EMCC Lions cruised to an easy 59-6 road triumph over Southwest Mississippi in Summit. While piling up 464 passing yards and 322 rushing yards in the contest, EMCC’s 786 yards of total offense last season against the Bears continues to mark the single-game school standard for a Stephens-coached East Mississippi squad.
The EMCC Lions, two-time reigning MACJC North Division champions, will kick off their six-game division slate next Thursday (Sept. 19) by traveling to Moorhead to take on the Trojans of Mississippi Delta Community College.
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).