SCOOBA – A 28-point third quarter powered top-ranked East Mississippi Community College to a key 49-3 MACJC North Division victory over visiting 15th-ranked Holmes Community College Thursday night at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus.
As the Lions, now 6-0 overall and 4-0 in division play, neutralized the nation's top-ranked rushing offense on the way to posting their 17th consecutive victory overall and 28th straight regular-season division win, they now collectively set their sights on next Thursday's crucial MACJC North road battle against 11th-ranked Northwest Mississippi. The rematch of last year's MACJC state championship game, won by EMCC 38-30 in Scooba, will kick off at 6:30 p.m. in Senatobia.
Against Holmes, EMCC set the tone early by scoring on its first two possessions. Sophomore running back Tyrell Price opened the scoring by punching in his 12th rushing touchdown of the year from a yard out to cap a 15-play, 71-yard drive at the 10:24 mark. The Lafayette High School product entered the game atop the NJCAA's individual statistical leaders in rushing touchdowns.
The Lions followed on their next series by moving 44 yards in seven plays, highlighted by Lindsey Scott Jr.'s 22-yard touchdown pass to Georgia Southern transfer receiver Mike Williams with 5:01 remaining in the opening quarter.
Aided by a 39-yard gain on a reverse play by receiver Steven Burdette, Holmes got on the scoreboard with a 26-yard made field goal by Connor McKay that cut the deficit to 14-3 at the 2:18 mark.
The home team answered by efficiently moving the ball the length of the field on the next series, only to have a holding penalty inside the 10-yard line force a 22-yard Taylor Crabtree field goal attempt that ultimately sailed left early in the second quarter.
As the Lions' offense seemed to sputter a bit following a fast start, EMCC's defense rose to the occasion to keep the score at 14-3 heading into intermission. While limiting the Bulldogs to just 152 yards on the ground for the game – 236 yards under their NJCAA-leading, per-game average heading into the contest – the Lions stopped Cameryn Brent on a fourth-and-one play at the 8-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the half.
After closing the first half with Ty Williams' interception of a Jesse Wilson aerial, EMCC's defensive unit continued to thwart Holmes' potent offense as the second stanza kicked off. Following the Bulldogs' fumbled attempt at another reverse play in East Mississippi territory, the Lions took advantage of consecutive miscues by the visitors to score a pair of touchdowns 23 seconds apart.
A 41-yard scoring pass play from Scott to Kirk Merritt at the 9:55 mark was immediately followed by Duke Upshaw's interception of another Wilson pass. On the next play from scrimmage, Scott launched himself into the end zone on an acrobatic keeper from five yards out to extend EMCC's lead to 28-3 with 9:32 still remaining in the third quarter.
While the Lions were scoring touchdowns on their first five possessions of the second half, their defense continued to slam the door on the Bulldogs by forcing Holmes into three consecutive three-and-outs to close out the contest.
Meanwhile on offense, East Mississippi's game-deciding, 28-point third quarter continued with Scott finding freshman receiver Dontario Drummond, who spun away from a defender and raced down the left sideline for a 31-yard catch and run at the 4:30 mark.
Late in the third quarter, the Lions reached the MACJC's mandated 38-point, mercy-rule margin in impressive fashion when Scott connected with Calvin Keys Jr., who snared a pass on the left side and spun back toward the middle of the field for a 57-yard scoring play to lengthen the margin to 42-3 at the 1:49 mark. Playing the rest of the game with a running clock, EMCC tacked on a final score four minutes into the final period when Scott accounted for his sixth touchdown of the evening with a 31-yard touchdown toss to Madison Central High School product Braden Boykin.
Scott, an LSU transfer, had a career night for the Lions by completing 32-of-39 passes for 452 yards and five touchdowns. The former Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year out of Zachary also rushed for 50 yards and one score on nine attempts. Scott connected with 13 different EMCC receivers during the contest, led by Keys' seven-catch outing for 111 yards. Though held to 32 rushing yards on nine carries, Price followed by grabbing five passes out of the backfield for 57 yards.
For the game, EMCC out-gained Holmes, 577-215, in total offense. Along with picking off two Bulldog passes, the Lions made eight stops behind the line of scrimmage, including five quarterback sacks. In addition, Holmes was limited to 5-of-16 passing for just 63 yards on the night.