No. 14 EMCC Lions set to host Itawamba in Homecoming clash with MACCC playoff implications
Published 2:20 pm Friday, October 21, 2022
SCOOBA – The 14th-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College are set for their regular-season home finale by playing host to the Itawamba Community College Indians as part of Saturday’s Homecoming festivities on the Scooba campus. Kickoff for the critical MACCC North Division contest with major conference playoff implications is set for 2 p.m. at EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field.
Along with the presentation of EMCC’s 2022 Homecoming Court, Saturday’s EMCC-ICC halftime activities will also feature the recognition of Ronnie Carter as EMCC’s 2022 Alumnus of the Year and Mike Luke as EMCC’s 2022 Distinguished Service Award winner.
Down seven spots to No. 14 in this week’s NJCAA Division I football poll, the EMCC Lions (4-3 overall and 2-2 in MACCC North) are looking to bounce back for the third time this season after dropping a 31-21 road decision to Northeast Mississippi last week in Booneville. Previously this year, EMCC responded to a 42-28 loss at now-No. 4 Jones College with consecutive wins over Holmes (45-9 in Ridgeland) and in comeback fashion at Mississippi Gulf Coast (48-45). Earlier this month, the Lions rebounded from a 38-21 home setback to now-No. 3 Northwest Mississippi with a 24-16 home victory over Coahoma.
Offensively as a team, the Lions entered the week’s action ranked fourth among NJCAA Division I teams in passing offense (270.6 yds/gm), 11th in total offense (385.1 yds/gm) and 14th in scoring offense (32.1 pts/gm). Defensively, EMCC began the week tied for seventh nationally with 10 pass interceptions as a unit. Laurence Sullivan Jr. leads the way for the Lions with three picks on the year, followed by fellow sophomores Jamori Evans and Reggie Neely with a pair of interceptions each.
Individually for the Lions, freshman quarterback Eli Anderson continues to lead the NJCAA Division I ranks by having completed 70.6 percent (149-of-211) of his passes on the season. The two-time NJCAA and MACCC Offensive Player of the Week also ranks fifth nationally with an average of 223.0 passing yards per game and is tied for ninth with 11 touchdown tosses.
Led by sophomore Duke Miller, who ranks fifth in NJCAA Division I football with 40 receptions, EMCC features nine different receivers with double-digit catches on the year. Josh Aka is second on the team with 28 grabs, while Carl Robinson and Kobe Chambers follow with 23 and 20 receptions, respectively.
Guided by ninth-year head football coach Sean Cannon, Itawamba is 3-4 overall on the year with all three wins coming against MACCC North Division competition. Within the division, ICC has knocked off Northeast (28-27 in OT), Mississippi Delta (55-21) and Holmes (35-28) while having lost at Northwest (49-10). Most recently, the Indians dropped a 34-7 home decision to Hinds last week. Itawamba opened the season with losses to MACCC South foes Jones College (44-0) and Mississippi Gulf Coast (37-13).
EMCC’s 15th-year head football coach Buddy Stephens owns a 12-1 career record against Itawamba (5-0 in Scooba, 6-1 in Fulton & 1-0 in West Point), including a current eight-game series winning streak against the Indians that dates back to the 2013 season. Most recently in the EMCC-ICC football series, the Lions prevailed, 34-9, a year ago in Fulton as well as posting a 48-3 home win during the 2019 season in Scooba.
The Lions are unbeaten (13-0) in Homecoming contests during the Stephens era. Northeast and Coahoma rate as EMCC’s most common Homecoming opponents dating back to 2008 with three meetings apiece. Holmes and Itawamba are next with two Homecoming clashes each with Stephens’ Lions, including Saturday’s upcoming contest against ICC. Mississippi Delta, Northwest, Jones and Pearl River have all been one-time EMCC Homecoming foes since the 2008 campaign.
Saturday’s EMCC-ICC contest will 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. Chris Coleman is set to do the sideline reporting. The game’s live-streamed audio will also be carried by EMCC’s campus radio station, WGTC-FM (92.7), originating from the Golden Triangle campus in Mayhew. In addition, EMCC’s weekly live video streamed football broadcasts will be available in HD at emcclive.com. Alternate audio streams of the radio broadcasts are also available at wfca.fm.