Second-half surge propels No. 1 EMCC Lions to 56-21 homecoming win over Holmes

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SCOOBA, Miss. (EMCC Athletics) - The four-time national champion Lions of East Mississippi Community College scored 28 unanswered second-half points to close out the game and pull away with a 56-21 Homecoming victory over Holmes Community College during Saturday afternoon MACJC North Division football action played at Sullivan-Windham Field.

In their first home game action in three weeks, the Lions jumped out to an early 21-0 first-quarter lead. Their opening drive of 70 yards in nine plays was capped by Deon McIntosh’s 3-yard scoring burst at the 12:25 mark. Following a three and out by Holmes, EMCC’s special teams came up big when Holmes punter Connor McKay dropped the snap and was swarmed by EMCC’s Braden Boykin on the punt attempt. Adrian Miller recovered at the 3-yard line and two plays later TyQuan Ulmer ran it in from six yards out for his first collegiate rushing touchdown. Ulmer’s first of three rushing scores on the day made it 14-0 with 10:31 remaining in the opening quarter.

Later in the quarter following an exchange of turnovers, the Lions notched their longest play from scrimmage on the year when Michigan State transfer quarterback Messiah deWeaver connected with Rashad Eades for a 76-yard catch and run to extend the lead to 21-0 at the 4:33 mark of the first quarter.

Holmes answered with a 16-play, 98-yard drive that took 9:27 off the game clock before Terry Bryant punched it in from a yard out at the 10:06 mark of the second quarter for his first of three touchdowns on the afternoon. EMCC promptly responded with a lengthy drive of its own by going 67 yards in 11 plays to move ahead 28-7 on Ulmer’s 1-yard keeper with 5:42 left in the half.

The Bulldogs then used the remaining time on the first-half clock to march 75 yards on a dozen plays before Bryant barreled in from three yards out with eight seconds left to cut the margin to 28-14 prior to the intermission.

The visitors gained additional confidence coming out of the halftime break with Bryant breaking off consecutive runs of 33, 22 and 10 yards in 1:32 to score his third touchdown of the game and make it a 28-21 contest. Holmes’ freshman running back from Prentiss finished the day with 160 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.

From that point on, however, EMCC’s vaunted defense stiffened while the Lions scored four unanswered touchdowns the rest of the way to cruise to the 35-point home victory. During the Bulldogs’ last six possessions of the game, only one drive consumed double-digit yardage and just one possession lasted more than five plays.

After forcing a three and out following Holmes’ initial possession of the half, the Lions scored on their next three drives to regain control of the contest. First, an eight-play, 69-yard drive was capped by deWeaver’s 9-yard touchdown toss to Dontario Drummond midway through the third quarter. The scoring grab marked Drummond’s eighth touchdown reception of the year and 18th of his EMCC career.

Less than two minutes later following another three and out, Holmes’ fake punt attempt was snuffed out when EMCC’s JaQuez Akins quickly chased down quarterback Reggie Hayes at the Holmes 15-yard line. On the next play from scrimmage, McIntosh raced into the end zone for his NJCAA-leading 13th rushing touchdown of the season to lengthen the lead to 42-21 with 5:21 left to play in the third quarter.

The Lions tacked on two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to reach the 50-point mark for the fifth time this season and extend their current home winning streak to 31 consecutive games dating back to the start of the 2013 season. A minute into the final period, Ulmer followed a 15-yard keeper with a 16-yard tipped completion for a touchdown to Adrian Miller. Miller, a sophomore receiver out of West Marion High School, then set up EMCC’s final score of the game with a blocked punt that was cashed in five plays later on another 1-yard scoring burst by Ulmer at the 4:58 mark.

Statistically for the winners in their 12th straight win dating back to last season, McIntosh, a Notre Dame transfer, registered his third consecutive 100-yard rushing outing with 106 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Ulmer followed with 56 yards and three scores on 12 attempts.

Through the air, deWeaver connected on 18-of-22 passes for 227 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kalem Reddix and DJ Clayton led the way for EMCC’s deep receiving corps with five and four catches, respectively, for 47 and 41 yards.

Winners of 81 of their last 86 games dating back to the start of the 2011 season, 11th-year head coach Buddy Stephens’ reigning national and state champion EMCC Lions (7-0 overall & 4-0 in MACJC North) stay at home during a short week to play host to the Tigers of Coahoma Community College on Thursday (Oct. 18). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus.