MOORHEAD – The NJCAA's leading offensive and defensive team statistically put on another dominating all-around performance Thursday evening, as fifth-ranked East Mississippi Community College scored 10 touchdowns for the second straight week and blanked a third consecutive opponent in a convincing 70-0 road victory over Mississippi Delta Community College at Jim Randall Field.
In scoring 49 points in their season opener at Pearl River followed by three successive shutout victories over East Central (59-0), Southwest Mississippi (69-0) and Mississippi Delta, head coach Buddy Stephens' 4-0 EMCC Lions have now outscored their 2013 opposition by a collective total of 247-6. East Mississippi continues to lead the NJCAA ranks by averaging 61.8 points offensively and allowing an average of just 1.5 points per game defensively on the year.
As two-time reigning MACJC North Division regular-season champions, the EMCC Lions' explosive offense was slowed a bit in their 2013 division opener by the home-standing Trojans. With three of their opening four possessions ending with a pair of punts and a fumble, the Lions' lone score of the opening quarter was a 31-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Dontreal Pruitt to Meridian's Antoinne Adkins at the 11:06 mark.
With touchdowns during each of their next four possessions, EMCC's quick-strike offense put up 28 points in the second quarter to take an insurmountable 35-0 halftime advantage. The Lions have now outscored their opponents by a whopping 163-0 composite margin during first-half play on the year.
Sophomore running back Lakenderic Thomas opened EMCC's second-period scoring with a pair of touchdown runs to raise his team-leading total to seven scores via the ground this season. The West Point product's first touchdown burst – from 10 yards out – was set up by Mississippi Gulf Coast transfer Fenest Armstrong's first pass interception of the year. Thomas' other score was a 1-yard blast across the goal line coming at the 10:43 mark on the heels of a 47-yard, Pruitt-to-Adkins pass connection.
With the Lions' stout stopper unit forcing five first-half punts by Mississippi Delta, the Trojans' best chance to produce points offensively came midway through the second quarter. Aided by a drive-opening, 27-yard pass play and a subsequent 15-yard EMCC penalty, Delta went for a fourth-and-eight conversion attempt from just outside the red zone. However, Jaylon Daniels' 26-yard pass attempt to the right corner of the end zone was batted away at the final moment by EMCC's A.J. Stamps.
Pruitt, who finished the first half with 20-of-29 passing for nearly 400 yards, added a 21-yard touchdown scamper – his second rushing TD of the year – at the 6:29 mark. The Laurel High School product then hooked up with former prep teammate Justin Mack for a 43-yard scoring pass play with 2:35 left until the intermission.
East Mississippi's overpowering defensive squad continued to dominate up front and in the secondary throughout the second half. Along with being credited with 22 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for the game, the Lions also picked off five pass interceptions over the final two quarters of play.
Setting a new single-game school standard for the Stephens era with six pass interceptions on the night, the Lions picked off Delta aerials during three straight third-quarter possessions. First, sophomore linebacker Christian Russell corralled his first collegiate pick to set up a 3-yard scoring run by Todd Mays to make it 42-0 midway through the period. Two minutes later at midfield, Stamps' third interception of the year was immediately followed by a 45-yard scoring strike from Pruitt to freshman Brandon Acker, who also teamed up for a 49-yard pass play in the opening half. Allen Sentimore then reclaimed sole possession of the team lead with his fourth pass interception of the year coming late in the period.
EMCC reserves tacked on three more scores, including a pair of pick-sixes, during the final period to reach the 70-point mark for the second time in school history, trailing only the memorable 75-71 EMCC victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast during the 2009 MACJC state championship game played in Scooba. Immediately following a blocked punt by 5-foot-8 freshman speedster Kameron Myers, Mays posted the Lions' eighth and final offensive touchdown of the evening with an 18-yard stroll into the end zone to extend the margin to 56-0 with 11:28 still remaining on the game clock.
EMCC's final two touchdowns came via the defensive secondary, as Deshadrick Truly and Ken Breland both hit pay dirt on interception returns of 31 and 22 yards, respectively. With three picks in each of their first two games of the season, the Lions doubled their season total to a dozen pass interceptions through four contests.
Statistically, Pruitt became the third EMCC quarterback during the Stephens era (joining Bo Wallace and Brad Henderson) to eclipse the 500-yard mark by completing 28-of-39 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns. Hitting 10 different receivers on the night, Pruitt's favorite targets were C.J. Bates and Adkins, who had seven and six catches for 108 and 124 receiving yards, respectively.
In addition, freshman kicker/punter Drew White, of Tupelo, was successful on all 10 point-after-touchdown attempts versus Delta and has now connected on 34-of-35 PAT tries on the year.
The EMCC Lions, ranked second nationally in this week's JCGridiron.com and JCFootball.com team rankings, will play host to the Tigers of Coahoma Community College next Saturday (Sept. 28) as part of Homecoming 2013 festivities on the Scooba campus. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. at EMCC's Sullivan-Windham Field.