SCOOBA, Miss. - The fourth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions Thursday night en route to building a big halftime lead and ultimately breezing to a 56-6 home victory over the winless Coahoma Tigers in MACJC North Division football action at EMCC's New Sullivan-Windham Field.
Thursday's 50-point EMCC home triumph, coupled with 15th-ranked Northeast Mississippi's 34-28 road win over No. 10 Northwest Mississippi, sets up a crucial MACJC North Division gridiron battle of unbeaten foes next Saturday (Oct. 8) in Booneville. With both teams 5-0 overall and 3-0 in division play, Northeast's upcoming Homecoming contest against the visiting EMCC Lions is set for a 3 p.m. kickoff at Tiger Stadium.
In their only homestand of the season, the EMCC Lions made up for an offside penalty on the opening kickoff by recovering a Coahoma fumble on the second kickoff attempt at the 7-yard line. The home team immediately set the tone for the evening on the first play from scrimmage when freshman quarterback Bo Wallace hit sophomore Rodney Davis with a scoring toss 17 seconds into the game.
After Coahoma's opening drive fizzled around midfield and the ensuing punt backed up EMCC to the 3-yard line, the Lions marched 97 yards in less than two minutes on just six plays to move ahead 14-0 by the 8:47 mark. Wallace capped the efficient drive by escaping the pocket and throwing back across the field, where he found sophomore Hamp Glover in the middle of the end zone from 12 yards out.
That same combination hooked up again toward the end of the opening quarter, as Wallace hit Glover in the left corner of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown with 1:14 remaining in the quarter to make it a 21-0 contest.
Following the first of three straight three-and-outs for the visiting Tigers, EMCC opened the second period with a 10-play drive that covered 47 yards and culminated with a 17-yard scoring pass play from Wallace to freshman Antoinne Adkins.
The final score of the opening half - a 10-yard touchdown reception by sophomore JJ Harbin from Wallace at the 7:15 mark - gave EMCC a sizeable halftime advantage (35-0) for the second straight week. After the Lions' first three wins of the campaign were decided by a collective total of only 10 points, they held a 38-0 halftime lead a week ago in their 48-7 home win over Itawamba.
East Mississippi's shutout bid was foiled at the start of the second half following Wallace's second interception of the night. Coahoma took advantage of the miscue on Daveonn Porter's 2-yard plunge with 12:46 left in the third quarter. Nolan Parker's point-after-touchdown attempt sailed wide to keep the Tigers' deficit at 35-6.
The Lions got back on track to score the final points of the third quarter when Wallace hit sophomore Lacoltan Bester with a 33-yard scoring toss at the 6:48 mark. Bester, a former Kemper County product, continues to lead EMCC with five touchdown grabs on the year.
En route to posting their highest single-game point total since the team's memorable 75-71 shootout victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast during the 2009 MACJC state championship game played in Scooba, the Lions added two more scores against Coahoma in the final period. Adkins' 32-yard scamper to the end zone on an end-around play at the 13:06 mark was followed by Hunter Lohman's 25-yard touchdown reception from Wallace with 4:56 remaining.
Wallace, a transfer from Arkansas State University, finished the night 34-of-49 through the air, hitting 12 different receivers, for nearly 400 passing yards and seven touchdowns plus the pair of interceptions. The Pulaski, Tenn., native has now thrown 17 touchdown passes through the first five games of the season.
Now 3-0 at home and 2-0 on the road this year, head coach Buddy Stephens' EMCC Lions will hit the road for a pair of contests against nationally ranked opponents. On the heels of the team's upcoming divisional showdown at Northeast Mississippi on Oct. 8, EMCC will head to Poplarville the following Saturday (Oct. 15) to tangle with the Pearl River Wildcats.