East Miss. wins Miss. Bowl

Published 5:34 am Tuesday, December 8, 2009

East Mississippi takes bowl win

An Item Staff report

BILOXI — The fifth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College capped the most successful football season in school history by holding on for a 27-24 victory over No. 6 Arizona Western College Sunday afternoon in the 2009 Mississippi Bowl played at Biloxi Indian Stadium.

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With the victory in Biloxi’s second annual bowl event, head coach Buddy Stephens’ 11-1 EMCC Lions established a new all-time school standard for most wins in a season, breaking the previous mark of 10-1-1 set by Hall of Fame head coach Bob “Bull” Sullivan’s 1963 EMJC squad. The 1963 campaign also marked the last time the Lions had appeared in a postseason bowl game prior to this year.

East Mississippi’s first bowl appearance in 46 years began in spectacular fashion for the designated home team, as sophomore wide receiver Derrick Steele of Utica returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score and minutes later took a Randall Mackey screen pass 56 yards for a score to make it 13-0.

With three receptions for 68 yards on the day, including the 56-yard scoring grab following his game-opening, 90-yard kickoff return, Steele was named EMCC’s Offensive MVP for the game. Sophomore defensive end Claude Davis was chosen the Lions’ Defensive MVP. Mackey, a two-time NJCAA Region 23 Offensive MVP, was also presented a post-game honor by the Mississippi Bowl Committee as the MVP of EMCC’s 2009 state championship team after completing 26-of-34 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns.

Now 19-3 overall in two seasons under Stephens’ guidance, the Lions closed out the 2009 campaign with eight consecutive wins.

Stephens is a fomer player and assistant coach at Pearl River Community College and led the Lions to their first ever state title this year.