No. 8 EMCC Lions travel to Mississippi Gulf Coast for NJCAA Game of the Week on ESPN+
Published 11:21 am Thursday, September 22, 2022
SCOOBA – The eighth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College are set to wrap up a three-game span away from home and close out their interdivisional slate by traveling to Perkinston for Thursday’s meeting with the Bulldogs of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Kickoff at historic A.L. May Memorial Stadium is slated for 7 p.m., and the contest will be live-streamed by ESPN+ as the NJCAA Game of the Week.
Thursday’s EMCC-Gulf Coast contest will also be broadcast live by WFCA-FM (107.9), out of French Camp, with Jason Crowder and Glen Beard slated to provide the play-by-play and color commentary, respectively. The game’s live-streamed audio will also be carried by SuperTalk Mississippi (WZKR-FM 103.3), out of Meridian, as well as through EMCC’s campus radio station, WGTC-FM (92.7), originating from the Golden Triangle campus in Mayhew. In addition, the audio feed of Thursday’s EMCC broadcast will be available online at emcclive.com and wfca.fm.
Having moved up a notch to No. 8 in this week’s NJCAA Division I rankings, head coach Buddy Stephens’ 2-1 EMCC Lions are coming off last week’s 45-9 division-opening victory over Holmes in a game played at Ridgeland High School. East Mississippi opened the season by claiming a 38-0 home shutout win over Copiah-Lincoln (Sept. 1) prior to dropping a 42-28 road decision the following week at now-No. 5 Jones College.
Guided by fifth-year head coach Jack Wright, Mississippi Gulf Coast is also 2-1 overall on the year after posting a 45-7 home win over Southwest Mississippi a week ago in the team’s division opener. Receiving votes in this week’s NJCAA poll, the Bulldogs opened the season by bouncing back from a narrow 28-24 road loss to fourth-ranked Northwest Mississippi with a 37-13 victory the following week at Itawamba.
In addition to their matching 2-1 overall and 1-0 division records, EMCC and Gulf Coast will enter Thursday’s contest also fairly equal in offensive team numbers produced under the command of respective freshman quarterbacks. With EMCC’s quarterbacking tandem of Eli Anderson (73%) and Memphis transfer Peter Parrish (70%) currently ranking 1-2 atop the NJCAA’s Division I statistical leaders in pass completion percentage, the Lions rate third nationally with an average of 255.3 passing yards per game. The Bulldogs, under the leadership of freshman signal-caller Pat McQuaide, follow close behind at 251.7 passing yards per contest to rank fifth. On the ground, the two teams are not as highly ranked nationally but are just as comparable with per-game averages of 144.7 (EMCC-19th) and 132.7 (MGCCC-21st) rushing yards, respectively.
EMCC’s Anderson was named the NJCAA Division I and MACCC Offensive Player of the Week for last Thursday’s performance against Holmes during his initial collegiate start. The Neshoba Central High School product completed 33-of-42 (79%) for 300 yards and four touchdowns a week ago versus the Bulldogs. In the first half alone in a game played at Ridgeland High School, Anderson was 25-of-28 (89%) for 225 passing yards and three scoring tosses to help stake EMCC to a 28-7 halftime lead.
Defensively as a team, EMCC entered the week tied for second in the MACCC behind Gulf Coast with 12 quarterback sacks for the season (MGCCC has 17). In addition, the Lions are tied for fourth nationally in NJCAA Division I with six pass interceptions on the year, including three picks in their opener against Co-Lin and two more a week ago versus Holmes.
EMCC’s Stephens owns a 9-3 career record (7-1 in Scooba & 2-2 in Perkinston) against Mississippi Gulf Coast, including wins over the Bulldogs during seven of the last eight meetings between the two teams. Prior to falling, 31-7, to eventual national champion Gulf Coast in the 2019 conference semifinals played in Perkinston, the Lions had prevailed in seven straight head-to-head matchups, including a 42-17 home triumph over MGCCC in the 2011 conference championship game as well as semifinal-round home playoff wins over the Bulldogs during the 2016 (27-24), 2014 (42-21) and 2013 (45-28) seasons. EMCC also posted a memorable 75-71 home victory (in regulation) over Gulf Coast in 2009 to earn the first conference championship in the school’s football history and set the stage for six additional league titles to follow during a successful decade (2009-18) on the gridiron for the Lions.