SCOOBA – In earning his 80th career head coaching victory, Buddy Stephens' ninth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College reached the 70-point mark for the sixth time in his nine-year EMCC coaching stint by powering to a 73-7 MACJC North Division triumph over visiting Mississippi Delta Community College Thursday evening at Sullivan-Windham Field.
With six rushing touchdowns for the second time this year along with three more through the air, a scoop and score and a field goal, EMCC produced its highest scoring output since claiming an 83-7 road win over Coahoma two years ago. Extending current streaks that both date back to the start of the 2013 season to 21 consecutive division wins and 19 straight home victories, the Lions improved to 80-12 (.870) overall and 48-3 (.941) within the MACJC North Division under Stephens' guidance.
Marking the midway point of the current campaign, Thursday's EMCC-Delta contest started fast and furious for the home-standing Lions with three touchdowns by Isaiah Wright and a 28-yard field goal by Taylor Crabtree during the game's opening quarter. Wright's first score – a 1-yard burst at the 13:26 mark – capped a six-play, 70-yard drive that opened the game's scoring. After EMCC recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Wright was then on the receiving end of a 6-yard touchdown toss from reigning NJCAA Offensive Player of the Week De'Andre Johnson less than two minutes later to quickly make it a 14-0 game.
Following Crabtree's successful field goal with 10 minutes still remaining in the quarter, EMCC went up 24-0 on Wright's second 1-yard scoring plunge and third touchdown of the contest coming at the 4:13 mark.
The second quarter began with EMCC being pinned on the 1-yard line following a Delta punt. The Lions responded by efficiently marching the 99 yards on just seven plays, including the final 83 yards coming on back-to-back long throws by Johnson. The Florida State transfer first hit Brooks Shannon on a 43-yard aerial and then followed with a 40-yard scoring strike to Daniel Crowell Jr. down the right sideline.
Midway through the quarter, the Trojans took advantage of a Johnson interception and subsequent facemask penalty to post their only points of the contest. A 2-yard scoring run by Jaybril Haymon made the score 31-7 with eight minutes remaining in the first half.
Following a pair of three-and-out possessions by their offense, special teams play seemed to spark the Lions during the final couple of minutes heading into intermission. A blocked punt by Brian Cole II and recovered by Ty Williams was turned into a 4-yard touchdown run by Vijay Miller at the 1:58 mark. As the half was winding down with Delta keeping the ball on the ground, Cole came up big again for the home team. The University of Michigan transfer scooped up a fumble and bolted 50 yards to the end zone on the half's final play to increase EMCC's lead to 45-7 entering the halftime break.
With the game's final 30 minutes played utilizing a running clock due to the MACJC's 38-point margin mercy rule, the Lions' lone tally of the third quarter came on Johnson's 20-yard connection with Damion Willis midway through the period.
EMCC then made the most of the remaining time on the running clock by reaching the end zone three more times during the final quarter. Brieton Sykes scored his first collegiate touchdown on an 8-yard carry a minute into the period to lengthen the margin to 59-7. Subsequent punt returns of 41 and 20 yards by Crowell set up respective touchdown runs of one and 25 yards by Miller and Ja'Mori Mark to account for the final score.
EMCC's Johnson, who was also tabbed the MACJC's Offensive Player of the Week for the past two weeks in addition to his national honors for last week's performance at Itawamba, was 15-of-27 passing for 230 yards and three touchdowns against Mississippi Delta. The Jacksonville, Florida native also had 58 rushing yards on 10 attempts.
Along with his three total touchdowns on the night, Wright was the Lions' leading rusher with 61 yards on nine carries. With 11 different players on the receiving end of passes during the evening, Shannon led the way with five receptions for 90 yards.
In contrast to the Lions approaching the 500-yard mark for total offense in the game, EMCC's defense limited the Trojans to less than 100 yards of total offense and had nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Now 4-1 overall and 3-0 in division play heading into the second half of the regular season, the EMCC Lions travel to Goodman next Thursday (Oct. 6) to take on the 15th-ranked Holmes Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1). Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. at Ras Branch Field.