SCOOBA – The No. 1-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College close out their regular-season home football slate by playing host to the Coahoma Community College Tigers Thursday evening on the Scooba campus. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at EMCC's Sullivan-Windham Field.
Aiming to clinch their ninth MACJC North Division regular-season title in 11 years, the unbeaten EMCC Lions (7-0, 4-0 MACJC North) extended their current winning streak to 12 consecutive games this past Saturday by claiming a 56-21 Homecoming victory over Holmes. The reigning national and state champions also lengthened their current home win string to 31 straight contests over the past six seasons and improved their eight-year composite home record to 41-1 since moving into their current Sullivan-Windham Field location prior to the 2011 football season.
Having now been ranked in 100 consecutive NJCAA football polls, including preseason and final rankings, dating back to the 2011 preseason poll, this year's EMCC squad received all 17 first-place votes in the NJCAA Football Rankings for the fourth consecutive week. Bidding to become 11th-year head coach Buddy Stephens' first East Mississippi team to remain atop the national poll for an entire season, the Lions have been the NJCAA's top-ranked football team since last year's MACJC state playoffs.
On the heels of their fifth 50-point outing of the season, the Lions rank third nationally in scoring offense with an average of 47.6 points per contest. Outscoring the opposition by an average of 33.7 points per game on the year, EMCC stands sixth among the NJCAA's team statistical leaders in scoring defense with 13.9 points allowed an outing. While ranking seventh nationally in total offense with an average of 462.6 yards a game, the Lions are sixth in passing yards per contest (277.3) and third with 23 rushing touchdowns for the season.
Individually, EMCC's Deon McIntosh continues to lead the NJCAA with 13 rushing touchdowns through the first seven games of the season, including five outings with multiple scores on the ground. For the year, the Notre Dame transfer is averaging just shy of 100 rushing yards per game after reaching the century mark each of the past three outings (177 yards vs. East Central followed by 106 yards vs. both Northwest Mississippi and Holmes).
Through the air with Michigan State transfer Messiah deWeaver beginning to share quarterbacking duties with Mississippi Gulf Coast transfer TyQuan Ulmer as of Saturday's win over Holmes, EMCC features six receivers with double-digit catches on the season. Kalem Reddix leads the way for the Lions with 34 receptions followed by Dontario Drummond's 30 grabs. With 18 career touchdown receptions to his credit, Drummond is presently tied for third nationally with eight scoring catches for the year.
With a career coaching record of 105-13 (.890) as the NJCAA's seventh-winningest active head football coach, EMCC's Stephens owns a 10-0 career mark versus Coahoma that is split evenly between games contested in Scooba and Clarksdale. A year ago (Oct. 21) on the Scooba campus, the Lions totaled six offensive touchdowns along with producing two pick-six scores and a pair of special teams trips to the end zone en route to registering a 72-7 Homecoming victory over Coahoma. Two years ago (Oct. 20, 2016) in Clarksdale, EMCC posted a 42-0 shutout win over the Tigers.
Under Stephens' guidance as eight-time divisional champions (2008-09 & 2011-16), the EMCC Lions have a compiled a 60-4 record (.938) in MACJC North Division regular-season contests. They have gone unbeaten in regular-season division play seven times during the previous 10 seasons. EMCC's current home divisional win string stands at 24 consecutive games in a streak that dates back to the last home game played (38-14 win over Holmes) at the previous site of Sullivan-Windham Field during the 2010 regular-season finale.
Guided by third-year head football coach Steven Miller, the Coahoma Tigers are winless on the season, though two of their tough losses have been decided by a combined total of just three points (20-18 at Northeast Mississippi on Sept. 13 and 27-26 at Mississippi Delta on Sept. 27). Last week at Northwest Mississippi, Coahoma jumped ahead of the fifth-ranked Rangers 14-0 early in the contest and continued to lead 24-21 at the half before dropping a 35-24 road decision.
Thursday's EMCC-Coahoma contest will be broadcast live by WFCA-FM (107.9), out of French Camp, with Jason Crowder and Jonathan Holmes slated to provide the play-by-play and color commentary, respectively, while Glen Beard is set to handle sideline reporting duties. EMCC's 2018 football radio broadcasts will also be carried live by SuperTalk Mississippi (WZKR-FM 103.3) out of Meridian as well as through EMCC's campus radio station, WGTC-FM (92.7), originating from the Golden Triangle campus in Mayhew.
In addition, EMCC's weekly live video-streamed football broadcasts will be available in HD at www.EMCCAthletics.com/live. Alternate audio streams of the radio broadcasts are also available at www.wfca.fm. Fans are also encouraged to follow EMCC Athletics through the college's athletics website, www.EMCCAthletics.com, and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@EMCCAthletics) via the school's social media hub at www.EMCCAthletics.com/Social-Media-Hub.