Seven turnovers doom No. 7 EMCC Lions in 31-21 road setback to Northeast Tigers

Published 4:25 pm Friday, October 14, 2022

EMCC Sports Information

BOONEVILLE – Seven turnovers spelled doom for the visiting seventh-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College as they dropped a 31-21 decision to the Northeast Mississippi Tigers during Thursday’s MACCC North Division football action played at Tiger Stadium.

Along with losing four fumbles and being intercepted three times, the short-handed visitors were also without the services of four defensive starters on the evening due to injury.

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The division contest started with plenty of fireworks with three touchdowns scored through the opening three-plus minutes of play. After EMCC’s Kadarius Calloway returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, Northeast promptly answered on the game’s first play from scrimmage with a 65-yard catch and run from quarterback Carter Putt to receiver Kylan Garrett. The respective successful point-after-touchdown kicks evened the score at 7-7 just 26 seconds into the contest.

Following a three-and-out by the Lions, Putt and Garrett hooked up again on a 55-yard touchdown reception across the middle of the field to put the Tigers on top for good with 11 minutes still remaining in the first quarter.

EMCC managed to get inside the red zone twice late in the opening quarter, but a 10-play, 55-yard drive was halted when receiver Duke Miller was stripped of the ball following a catch at Northeast’s 16-yard line. On their next possession, the Lions turned the ball over on downs at NEMCC’s 19-yard line.

The second quarter’s only scoring came following a botched punt attempt by the Lions. After freshman punter Cole Arthur was tackled at EMCC’s 1-yard line, Northeast running back Goldman Butler VI promptly punched the ball in from a yard out on the next play at the 5:56 mark to extend the Tigers’ lead to 21-7.

The Lions’ turnover woes escalated during the second half of play with six of their seven miscues occurring following the halftime break. Eli Anderson’s first intercepted pass of the night was converted into a 23-yard field goal by Northeast’s Guy Gillespie to make it a 24-7 game with 9:57 left in the third quarter.

After both teams traded lost fumbles midway through the quarter, the visitors received a spark when Laurence Sullivan Jr. picked off Putt’s pass and returned his team-leading third interception of the year 26 yards to Northeast’s 14-yard line.

Three straight Calloway rushes later, EMCC made it a two-possession game when the former Philadelphia High School standout carried the ball around the right side 5 yards into the end zone to cut the deficit to 24-14 with 5:31 remaining in the quarter.

The Tigers responded later in the quarter by taking advantage of another EMCC turnover when Anderson was sacked and his recovered fumble was returned 20 yards to the Lions’ 14-yard line. Consecutive runs by Goldman of 5 and 9 yards stretched Northeast’s advantage to 31-14 heading into the fourth quarter.

With Peter Parrish under center, the Lions mounted a 12-play, 65-yard scoring drive that stayed mostly on the ground until the former Memphis transfer connected with Miller on a 15-yard touchdown pass at the 12:11 mark for what would be the game’s final score.

The Tigers took the next 5:43 off the game clock with six straight running plays followed by a delay of game penalty. EMCC’s final possession of the contest then fittingly ended with the team’s seventh turnover on a fumbled pass reception.

Falling to Northeast for only the second time in 14 meetings during the Buddy Stephens era (since 2008), the Lions were limited to just 253 yards of total offense and only 141 passing yards to mark their lowest single-game totals since the 2019 and 2018 seasons, respectively.

The EMCC Lions, now 4-3 overall and 2-2 in MACCC North Division play, will close out the home portion of their 2022 football slate by playing host to the ICC Indians on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Kickoff for East Mississippi’s Homecoming contest against Itawamba is set for 2 p.m. at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus.