BOONEVILLE – The seventh-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College broke open a close contest with a 28-point third quarter en route to cruising to a 56-7 road win over Northeast Mississippi Community College during Thursday night MACJC North Division football action at Tiger Stadium.
EMCC's offense was clicking early on as sophomore quarterback Wyatt Roberts directed the Lions to touchdown drives on their first two possessions of the contest. A 5-yard touchdown toss to former Louisville High School teammate Desmond Goss at the 11:05 mark was followed three minutes later by a 9-yard scoring pass to Isaiah Wright to give the visitors a quick 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.
Later in the period, the Lions drove nearly the length of the field looking for another score, but sophomore running back DJ Law fumbled and lost possession at the 4-yard line. Northeast quarterback Kendrick Doss then proceeded to direct the home-standing Tigers on an impressive 17-play, 96-yard drive of their own that was capped by his 2-yard keeper into the end zone. Instead of EMCC being up by three scores, Northeast had cut the deficit in half, 14-7, with 9:43 remaining in the first half.
East Mississippi's Law later atoned for his earlier turnover by bouncing off defenders and scampering up the right sideline for a 55-yard touchdown run at the 4:41 mark that put the Lions back up by two touchdowns heading into the intermission.
Following the halftime break, the visitors permanently gained control of the contest after taking advantage of Northeast's unsuccessful onside kick attempt to start the second half. After converting a third-and-10 play, Roberts connected with Dario Robinson for a 29-yard touchdown pass one minute into the second half to put the Lions on top by three touchdowns.
A minute later on the Tigers' next possession, Virginia Tech transfer C.J. Reavis picked off Doss' pass attempt and raced 30 yards down the left sideline to increase the margin to 35-7 with 12:57 still remaining in the period. Following a Northeast three-and-out, Florida State transfer quarterback John Franklin III directed EMCC on a 14-play, 60-yard drive that was capped by his 7-yard scoring strike to Damion Willis on a fourth-and-goal conversion at the 8:08 mark of the third quarter.
Reavis then came through again defensively for the Lions by out-muscling a Northeast receiver on Bailey Walker's pass attempt down the right sideline. His second interception of the contest was immediately followed by Franklin's 41-yard pass completion to Mario Lanier that paved the way for Jacquez Horsley's 3-yard scoring burst with 5:08 left in the period. EMCC's fourth touchdown of the quarter lengthened the lead to 49-7 and put the MACJC's 38-point margin mercy rule into effect for the remainder of the contest.
While utilizing a running clock, the lone scoring of the final period came on the heels of Aikeem Coleman snuffing out a pitch attempt in the Northeast backfield to regain possession for the visitors. On the next play, Franklin again hooked up with Lanier for a 31-yard scoring connection at the 7:15 mark. Grayson Pontius' eighth successful point-after-touchdown in as many tries for the game accounted for the 56-7 final outcome.
With their fifth straight series win over Northeast Mississippi and seventh victory in eight meetings against the Tigers during the Buddy Stephens era, the EMCC Lions improved to 3-1 overall on the year and 2-0 within the MACJC's North Division. Now 71-11 overall and 41-3 against division competition under Stephens, East Mississippi moved to 21-1 in division road games dating back to 2008.
Statistically on the evening, EMCC's Law, from Haines City, Florida, registered his third 100-yard rushing effort in four games this season, collecting all 127 of his yards on the ground in the opening half on 10 total carries. Roberts passed for 193 yards and three touchdowns on 16-of-24 accuracy through the air. Sophomore wide receiver Allenzae Staggers, the reigning NJCAA and MACJC Special Teams Player of the Week, was East Mississippi's most popular target on the night with five receptions for 49 yards.
The two-time reigning NJCAA Champion EMCC Lions return to the gridiron during next week's homecoming festivities by welcoming division rival Itawamba Community College to campus for a 2 p.m. kickoff Saturday (Sept. 26) at Sullivan-Windham Field. Along with the official induction of eight new members into EMCC's Sports Hall of Fame, East Mississippi will also host a 50-year reunion during the weekend for returning members of the Lions' 1965 state championship baseball team.