SCOOBA – The seventh-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College rebounded from their first football setback in nearly three years by shutting out Coahoma Community College, 69-0, during Thursday's MACJC North Division opener played at EMCC's Sullivan-Windham Field.
Having had their 25-game winning streak snapped a week ago at now-No. 1 Copiah-Lincoln, 31-24 in overtime, the two-time reigning NJCAA Champion Lions jumped on the visiting Tigers with two quick scores three minutes into the contest. Sophomore quarterback Wyatt Roberts connected with freshman receiver Brooks Shannon, who sped around the left edge for a 43-yard catch-and-run just one minute into the game. Two minutes later, Roberts and Shannon hooked up again for a 37-yard pass play that preceded a 4-yard scoring toss from Roberts to Florida State transfer Isaiah Jones at the 11:53 mark.
After holding Coahoma to three-and-outs during the team's first three offensive possessions, EMCC capped a 14-play, 90-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run by freshman Isaiah Wright to make it a 21-0 game after the opening quarter of play.
East Mississippi's explosive second quarter featured five touchdowns of 35 yards or longer and matched last year's 35-point second quarter against Coahoma that resulted in a 69-0 halftime lead by the Lions and an eventual 83-7 victory in Clarksdale. Sophomore Allenzae Staggers began the high-scoring period with a 44-yard touchdown reception within the opening minute. Three minutes later, Roberts found Shannon once again for a 53-yard scoring strike to put the home team on top, 35-0, by the 11:15 mark.
Limited to just 71 yards of total offense for the game, Coahoma's best chance at scoring in the game was denied when Virginia Tech transfer C.J. Reavis deflected Kian Richard's 40-yard field goal attempt with 7:45 remaining in the half.
At that point, EMCC freshman running back Jacquez Horsley temporarily stole the spotlight by breaking off runs of 16 and 18 yards to set up his 43-yard touchdown jaunt to increase the margin to 42-0 with 6:52 still remaining in the first half.
The Lions' five-touchdown quarter continued as Staggers tacked on two more scores during the final two minutes of the half with a 41-yard touchdown reception at the 1:48 mark followed by a 35-yard punt return for a touchdown as the halftime horn sounded.
By virtue of EMCC's 56-0 advantage at the intermission, the second half featured a running clock as mandated by the MACJC's 38-point mercy rule. Wright, from Florence High School, produced the lone points of the third quarter with a 26-yard scoring run for his second score of the game and team-leading sixth touchdown of the season.
Appropriately enough for East Mississippi, it was Staggers who put the exclamation mark on the night's offensive fireworks by running back a punt 81 yards for his second return score and fourth touchdown overall on the night. For the game, the Wilkinson County High School product caught a game-high four passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns along with returning six punts for 169 yards and another pair of scores. For the evening, Staggers totaled 10 touches for 267 all-purpose yards and four visits to the end zone.
In recording their 14th shutout victory over the last four seasons, the Lions out-gained Coahoma, 604-64, in total offense yards for the game. Individually for the winners, Roberts threw for 338 yards and five touchdowns on 16-of-22 passing while only seeing action during the first half. Along with Staggers' team-high four receptions, Shannon amassed 134 receiving yards and two scores on his three catches.
EMCC's 251-yard team rushing performance was highlighted by Horsley's 107-yard effort on just five carries. The freshman from Starkville picked up 77 of those yards on three consecutive second-quarter touches that was capped by his 43-yard touchdown scamper.
Coach Buddy Stephens' 2-1 EMCC Lions now hit the road to take on Northeast Mississippi Community College next Thursday (Sept. 17) in Booneville. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. at NEMCC's Tiger Stadium. East Mississippi will then close out its September slate by playing host to rival Itawamba Community College during homecoming weekend on the Scooba campus. The EMCC-ICC gridiron clash is set for a 2 p.m. start on Saturday, Sept. 26 at Sullivan-Windham Field.