ELLISVILLE – In their final non-division contest of the regular season, the seventh-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College scored three touchdowns during each of the first two quarters to roll to a convincing 49-7 road victory over Jones County Junior College Thursday evening at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field.
It took EMCC's quick-strike offense less than two minutes to get on the scoreboard. On the heels of a 45-yard connection between quarterback Wyatt Roberts and receiver Allenzae Staggers, the Lions' sophomore signal caller found Dario Robinson for a 4-yard touchdown toss at the 13:09 mark.
The Lions' short-handed defensive secondary set up their next score. With EMCC minus three defensive backs for the game due to injury and suspension, Robinson started the contest on both sides of the ball for the visitors. Having earlier collected his third touchdown reception of the season, the former two-way Amory High School standout picked off a Thad Miller pass from his starting cornerback position. Five plays later, EMCC freshman running back Isaiah Wright tallied his first of three consecutive touchdown runs with a 9-yard burst into the end zone with 7:35 remaining in the opening quarter.
Seeing significant playing time with the absence of injured running backs DJ Law and Jacquez Horsley, Wright then punched it in from three yards out at the 5:13 mark to put the visitors on top, 21-0, heading into the second quarter. The Florence High School product finished the night with a game-high 83 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in 13 carries - all in the first half – to give him a team-high 10 total touchdowns on the season.
Wright's 6-yard scoring run midway through the second quarter capped an 80-yard drive that followed a missed field goal attempt by JCJC freshman kicker Michael Godley and was aided by a 43-yard pass play from Roberts to Mario Lanier along with a subsequent facemask penalty called on the Bobcats.
Florida State transfer quarterback John Franklin III engineered EMCC's next scoring drive by mixing in four completed passes with a 26-yard scamper down the right sideline before completing the 74-yard drive with a 1-yard stroll into the end zone to increase the lead to 35-0 with 3:04 remaining in the half.
After forcing JCJC's fifth punt of the half, the Lions ran the two-minute drill to perfection while scoring again just before halftime. With Roberts and Franklin alternating at quarterback on the final drive of the half, EMCC drove down field 93 yards on 11 plays as Roberts hit Corey Davis with a 17-yard touchdown pass with just 9.5 ticks left on the game clock to stretch the margin to 42-0 heading into intermission.
While reaching the MACJC's mandated 38-point margin mercy rule before halftime, East Mississippi had compiled 437 yards of total offense with 295 passing yards and 142 rushing yards by the break.
With both teams utilizing a running game clock throughout the second half, EMCC's Roberts and Davis hooked up again on a 14-yard scoring pass play while the third quarter was winding down for the Lions' seventh touchdown of the evening. The Bobcats then finally managed to get on the scoreboard with 6:41 remaining on the game clock when JCJC quarterback Kelvin Bourrage, of Kemper County High School, connected with Nate Cohen on a 21-yard scoring aerial to account for the 49-7 final score.
For the game, Roberts, from Louisville, was credited with 302 passing yards and three touchdowns on 22-of-31 accuracy through the air. Robinson, Davis and Desmond Goss paced EMCC's receiving corps with six catches apiece in the contest.
Slated to again hit the field without the services of eighth-year head coach Buddy Stephens, who will be completing his two-game suspension this coming week, the 5-1 EMCC Lions will return to MACJC North Division play by heading to Goodman to take on the Bulldogs of Holmes Community College. Thursday's kickoff at Ras Branch Field is set for 7 p.m.