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No. 4 EMCC Lions travel to Northeast Mississippi to kick off final third of MACJC regular season
 October 11, 2012

SCOOBA – Heading into the final third of the MACJC’s regular season, the fourth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College (6-0, 3-0) travel to Booneville to meet the Northeast Mississippi Community College Tigers (2-4, 1-2) Thursday evening.  Kickoff at Tiger Stadium on the Northeast campus is set for 7 p.m.

Moving back up a notch to No. 4 and still with four first-place votes in this week’s NJCAA Top 20 national poll, head coach Buddy Stephens’ unbeaten EMCC Lions will take a host of impressive winning streaks with them to Booneville.  First and foremost, the preseason No. 1-ranked Lions have reeled off 18 consecutive victories dating back to last year’s NJCAA national championship season (12-0).  EMCC’s current win string in regular-season contests also stands at 18 straight games spanning back to the last three regular-season outings of the 2010 campaign. 

In addition, the Stephens-led EMCC Lions are unbeaten (13-0) in MACJC North Division road action since the fifth-year head coach took over East Mississippi’s football coaching duties beginning with the 2008 season.  Now 42-8 overall and 25-2 in division play during the Stephens era, the Lions’ lone setbacks within the division both came at home by a combined 13 points – 25-19 to Northwest Mississippi and 49-42 to Northeast Mississippi – during the 2010 campaign.  With 11 straight division wins overall, EMCC’s most recent division setback was the seven-point home loss to Northeast on Oct. 7, 2010. 

Trailing top-ranked Iowa Western, No. 2 Butler and third-rated Arizona Western in this week’s NJCAA poll, the EMCC Lions remain atop the JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 rankings and the JCFootball.com Top 25 ratings, which both include NJCAA-member schools as well as the California-based junior colleges.

Despite entering halftime of last Saturday’s homecoming contest against Holmes scoreless for the first time since Stephens’ first game at the East Mississippi helm (Aug. 28, 2008 vs. Copiah-Lincoln), the Lions exploded for 35 second-half points against the Bulldogs to record their second shutout in three weeks.  The 28 fourth-quarter points scored Saturday against Holmes matched a Stephens-era mark accomplished three previous times during his current five-year head coaching stint.

Having previously knocked off Mississippi Delta (56-0) in Scooba and Coahoma (48-17) in Clarksdale during MACJC North Division action this year, the EMCC Lions will next play host to unbeaten and sixth-ranked Northwest Mississippi next Thursday (Oct. 18) in Scooba before concluding the regular season at Itawamba on Saturday, Oct. 27.  The 2012 MACJC State Football Playoffs are set for the first two Saturdays of November (3rd & 10th).  

Statistically on the year, East Mississippi’s balanced offensive attack is averaging 239.3 rushing yards and 304.3 passing yards per game for an average of 543.7 yards of total offense an outing.  Outscoring the opposition by nearly 40 points per game, the Lions defensively are allowing an average of only 255.7 yards of total offense per contest (78.5 rushing & 177.2 passing) while giving up just 7.5 points a game for the season.  With two shutout wins over the past three games, EMCC’s stout defensive unit has held the opposition scoreless in 18 of the 24 quarters played this season.    

Guided by fifth-year head football coach Ricky Smither, the Tigers of Northeast Mississippi Community College are 2-4 overall on the year and 1-2 in division play after claiming a 21-17 victory at Coahoma last Thursday.  The Tigers’ division losses this year have come to Northwest Mississippi (19-13) and Holmes (34-14), while their other victory was at Jones County (30-21) during the second week of the season.

With Northeast Mississippi ranking as the most recent MACJC North Division opponent to beat EMCC (49-42 in Scooba two years ago), the Lions have prevailed in five of the last six head-to-head gridiron meetings going back to the 2006 season.  A year ago in Booneville, third-ranked EMCC raced to a 42-7 lead over No. 12 Northeast early in the second quarter on the way to mounting an insurmountable 49-14 halftime advantage before settling for a 63-35 final outcome.  The Lions also posted convincing victories over the Tigers during Stephens’ first two seasons at the EMCC helm, winning 48-10 at Scooba in 2009 and 49-0 at Booneville in 2008.

Thursday’s division contest in Booneville will be broadcast live by WFCA-FM radio (www.wfcafm108.com), out of French Camp, with Jason Crowder and Glen Beard set to describe the play-by-play action and John Lyle Briggs serving as the Lions’ sideline reporter.  WFCA’s broadcast of Thursday’s contest is also slated to be carried live in the Meridian market on SuperTalk Mississippi 103.3 FM as well as on WLSM-FM (107.1) in Louisville.  Post-game highlights and interviews will also be available Friday via EMCC’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/emccathletics, which can also be accessed through EMCC’s school website, www.eastms.edu, and Facebook pages. 





























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