SCOOBA – The third-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College tied an all-time NJCAA single-game scoring record with their 90-7 MACJC North Division victory over visiting Coahoma Community College Saturday afternoon at Sullivan-Windham Field as part of Homecoming festivities on the Scooba campus.
Scoring touchdowns in all but one of their 12 offensive possessions on the day, along with adding an interception return and a punt return for scores, head coach Buddy Stephens' 5-0 EMCC Lions matched the NJCAA mark initially established two years ago (Sept. 17, 2011) during Hutchinson Community College's triumph over Highland Community College by an identical score of 90-7.
Though having their defensive streak snapped at 15 consecutive scoreless quarters allowed by way of a third-quarter rushing touchdown, the Lions' five-game composite scoring margin improved to 337-13 on the season with Saturday's 83-point victory over the Tigers. The only points surrendered by EMCC's defense in 20 quarters of play this season have been third-quarter rushing scores by Coahoma and in the season opener at Pearl River.
EMCC's first two scores against Coahoma came via the running game. Sophomore quarterback Dontreal Pruitt got things rolling once again for the Lions with a 5-yard scamper into the end zone at the 11:45 mark. Freshman Todd Mays followed with a tackle-breaking, 14-yard touchdown run with 4:41 left in the first quarter to make the score 13-0 after the missed point-after-touchdown attempt.
Then it was time for EMCC's defensive unit to join the scoring parade, as sophomore safety Byerson Cockrell stepped in front of Anthony Mitchell's pass attempt and raced 55 yards to pay dirt for the pick-six at the 2:41 mark. The play marked the Lions' fourth pass interception return for a touchdown on the year and fifth overall defensive score through five games.
While the defense was limiting the visitors to five three-and-out possessions in the opening half, including four straight three-and-outs during one dominating stretch, East Mississippi's next five touchdowns all came through the air each to a different receiver. The Lions increased the margin to 27-0 late in the opening period when Pruitt hit a wide-open Brandon Bell down the field for a 75-yard catch-and-run to rate as EMCC's longest offensive play of the year.
EMCC's 28-point second quarter consisted of Pruitt touchdown passes to Preston Baker (15 yards), C.J. Bates (19 yds), Justin Mack (22 yds) and Brandon Acker (19 yds). The Lions' 55-point, first-half explosion equaled the identical 55-0 halftime lead they held two weeks ago in their 69-0 home win over Southwest Mississippi.
Pruitt, who did not see action in the second half, finished the day completing 22-of-28 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns without an interception. The former Laurel High School standout also rushed six times for 26 yards and a score.
With Mays at the controls following intermission, the Lions scored touchdowns on four of their five second-half offensive possessions. The Olive Branch High School product continued EMCC's onslaught by scoring from 16 yards out two minutes into the second half. Baker, a freshman from Starkville, then added a 3-yard scoring run at the 6:20 mark to cap an 11-play, 72-yard drive to make the score 69-0.
On Coahoma's next possession, the Lions' consecutive scoreless quarter string came to an end defensively. Aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty called on EMCC and compounded by a subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct miscue, Coahoma quarterback Quaintavous Peterson took advantage and scored on a 2-yard keeper with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter.
The NJCAA's most prolific scoring team answered with three more scores in the fourth quarter. The first touchdown in the final period came via special teams when defensive back A.J. Stamps scooped up a shanked Coahoma punt and ran it in from 20 yards out with 14:32 remaining in the contest. The successful PAT by freshman Drew White extended the margin to 76-7 and set a new all-time, single-game school scoring record for EMCC. The previous mark was established four years ago in the Lions' memorable 75-71 regulation victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast in the 2009 MACJC state championship game played in Scooba.
After EMCC broke the 80-point barrier when Mays hooked up with Isaac Johnson for a 16-yard touchdown at the 10:01 mark, the Lions tied the NJCAA's single-game scoring mark with 4:33 left on the game clock when Baker barreled in from 4 yards out and White followed with his 12th successful PAT attempt of the afternoon.
As a team, the EMCC Lions amassed 755 yards of total offense (475 passing & 280 rushing) against Coahoma to trail only the 786 total yards compiled at Southwest Mississippi a year ago for single-game superlatives during the Stephens coaching era.
Along with ranking as EMCC's leading rusher with 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns on seven rushes, Mays also completed 8-of-9 passes for 97 yards and another score. Mays and Pruitt combined to complete passes to 12 different players on the day with six receivers each hauling in a scoring toss.
On the ground, Lakenderic Thomas, of West Point, added 90 rushing yards on 12 carries for the winners, followed by Baker with 54 rushing yards and a pair of scoring totes on 13 attempts.
Ranked third in the NJCAA's Top 20 national poll this week but first in both the JCGridiron.com and JCFootball.com national team rankings, the EMCC Lions continue division play by traveling to Goodman to meet the Bulldogs of Holmes Community College on Thursday evening (Oct. 3).