No. 2 EMCC Lions use big first half to cruise to 49-10 home victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast

No. 2 EMCC Lions use big first half to cruise to 49-10 home victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast

SCOOBA – Compiling nearly 400 first-half yards of total offense while mounting a 35-3 halftime advantage, the second-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College cruised to a 49-10 home victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Thursday evening during MACJC inter-divisional football action at EMCC's Sullivan-Windham Field.                    

In notching their 13th consecutive win dating back to last year's MACJC state championship season, the 2-0 EMCC Lions scored touchdowns on seven of their nine drives on the night, including first-half scoring drives of 94, 91 and 89 yards.     

The evening began with a 12-play, 64-yard scoring drive that culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 11:36 mark by sophomore running back Tyrell Price, who finished the night with career highs of 111 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries.  Following a scoreless five-minute drive by the visitors that put the Lions deep in their own territory, a 51-yard pass play over the middle from LSU transfer quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. to Marshall transfer receiver Brandon Rodgers paved the way for a nine-play, 91-yard scoring drive that was capped by Price's 1-yard burst into the end zone at the 3:48 mark of the opening quarter.

The two teams traded three-and-outs before the Bulldogs went on a 14-play drive that resulted in their first points of the game.  After Gulf Coast moved 62 yards on 10 plays, EMCC's defensive unit responded with three straight stops of no gain from first-and-goal at the 8-yard line.  MGCCC had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Mason Hunt that cut the deficit to 14-3 with 11:05 left in the first half.

The Lions answered by dominating on both sides of the ball for the remainder of the half, scoring on two lengthy offensive drives and turning a pass interception into a third touchdown of the quarter.  Price struck again by capping an 11-play, 89-yard touchdown drive with a 10-yard sprint to the left pylon at the goal line to make it 21-3 midway through the quarter.

Following an empty Gulf Coast possession, EMCC scored its only touchdown via the pass on the evening when Scott hit receiver Mike Williams with a swing pass to the left side.  The Georgia Southern transfer picked up a key block and dodged a couple of Bulldog defenders while sprinting 84 yards down the sideline to extend the Lions' lead to 28-3 with 5:37 remaining before intermission.

Two plays into the Bulldogs' ensuing possession, EMCC sophomore cornerback Ty Williams picked off Torrance Gibson's pass to set up one more scoring opportunity for the Lions heading into the break.  With East Mississippi utilizing fresh players during the team's final possession of the half, Scott's 16-yard completion to freshman receiver Travion Jones was followed by a 2-yard scoring run by fellow freshman Reginald Hunter Jr. to give the Lions a comfortable 35-3 halftime advantage.

As the second half kicked off, it didn't take long for EMCC to eclipse the MACJC's mandated 38-point mercy rule margin.  On the second play from scrimmage, sophomore linebacker Quin Jones stepped in front of Larry Sisson's pass and raced 29 yards the other way to the left pylon to make it a 42-3 contest less than a minute into the second stanza.

From there with a running clock in effect for the remainder of the contest, each team reached pay dirt one more time to account for the final margin.  First, EMCC's Price put the finishing touches on a career night by capping a nine-play, 61-yard drive late in the third quarter.  The Lafayette High School product bounced right and bolted 29 yards to the end zone with a little more than four minutes left in the game for his fourth touchdown of the game.

Coming off a 42-point offensive outing in last week's narrow home win over Itawamba, Gulf Coast's only touchdown against EMCC came on Sisson's 3-yard scoring pass to Tyquan Ulmer early in the final period.

Statistically for the winners, Scott threw for 279 yards on 14-of-21 passing while only seeing action in the first half.  Transfer receiver Kirk Merritt was EMCC's top target again with five catches for 69 yards.  Rodgers, Calvin Keys Jr. and Braden Boykin all had three receptions apiece for the Lions.

Now 65-4 overall, including a 35-1 composite home record, dating back to their 2011 national championship season, 10th-year head coach Buddy Stephens' six-time reigning MACJC North Division champion EMCC Lions begin this year's division slate by traveling to Booneville to take on the Tigers of Northeast Mississippi Community College on Thursday (Sept. 14).  Kickoff at Tiger Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m.