SCOOBA – The third-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College registered their fifth shutout in seven games this season with a commanding 59-0 MACJC North Division victory over visiting Northeast Mississippi Community College Thursday evening at EMCC's Sullivan-Windham Field.
Improving to 7-0 overall and 4-0 within the division, the Lions got rolling offensively with a pair of long scoring drives in the opening quarter. To begin the game, EMCC evenly mixed six rushing plays with six pass plays to march 72 yards in four minutes. Sophomore running back Lakenderic Thomas punched it in the end zone from a yard out at the 10:59 mark for his eighth rushing touchdown of the season. Following a six-play Northeast drive that stalled at EMCC's 39-yard line, the Lions then went 95 yards on 14 plays to move ahead 14-0 with 3:57 left in the first quarter on Dontreal Pruitt's 4-yard keeper.
A Northeast miscue led directly to EMCC's third and final score of the opening period. Two plays after a bobbled punt snap was recovered by the Lions' Laderrick Roberts at the 3-yard line, Todd Mays scored his first of two touchdowns on the night with a 3-yard scamper at the 2:17 mark.
The second-quarter scoring began with EMCC's fourth field-goal attempt of the season, as freshman Drew White capped a 10-play drive with a 33-yard field goal at the 5:43 mark. White, from Tupelo, would later miss on attempts from 29 and 39 yards. On the visitors' next possession, EMCC sophomore safety Allen Sentimore picked off his team-leading fifth pass interception of the year, which set up Pruitt's 27-yard scoring strike to Isaac Johnson with 4:21 remaining in the half.
The opening half concluded with the Lions' fifth pick-six and sixth defensive touchdown overall on the year. Sophomore Fenest Armstrong nabbed Brady Allen's pass attempt and returned it 18 yards to pay dirt at the 2:34 mark to put the home team up 38-0 heading into the intermission.
After holding their seventh straight opponent scoreless in the opening half of play, the Lions' stout defensive unit continued to display their dominance following halftime. The Tigers managed to cross midfield for the third time in the game during their opening possession of the half, but their six-play drive was as much offense the visitors would be able to muster the rest of the way.
In holding their fourth opponent of the year under the century mark in total offense yardage for the game, the Lions forced the visitors into four consecutive three-and-out possessions in the second half. Northeast's sixth possession of the half resulted in EMCC's 18th pass interception of the year – the second of the season for Ken Breland.
Offensively, the Lions reached the end zone during their first two second-half possessions. First, the former Laurel High School connection of Pruitt and wide receiver Justin Mack hooked up for a 74-yard, catch-and-run score to increase the margin to 45-0 with 11:10 remaining in the third quarter. Pruitt's third touchdown throw of the evening followed just three minutes later when he found Johnson for the second time on the night with a 4-yard scoring toss at the 8:16 mark.
EMCC's eighth and final touchdown of the night came with 4:21 remaining in the game when Mays ran it in from 2 yards out for his second score of the contest and team-leading 11th rushing touchdown on the season.
As a team, the Lions collected 586 yards of total offense with 402 yards coming through the air and 184 gained on the ground. Pruitt was 19-of-32 passing for 327 yards and three touchdowns while adding a team-high 60 yards rushing and another score on eight carries. Mays, out of Olive Branch High School, connected on 8-of-12 aerials for 75 yards and carried the ball 19 times for 42 rushing yards and two scores. West Point's Thomas finished with 51 rushing yards and a touchdown on nine attempts.
Head coach Buddy Stephens' EMCC Lions hit the road for the final time this regular season by traveling to Senatobia to take on the Rangers of Northwest Mississippi Community College on Thursday (Oct. 17).