Top 15 showdown has No. 14 EMCC heading to No. 12 Gulf Coast for MACCC Semifinals
Published 3:49 pm Friday, November 4, 2022
SCOOBA – Set to make their 13th conference playoff appearance in the past 15 years under head football coach Buddy Stephens’ direction, the 14th-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College are ready for a return trip to Perkinston to take on No. 12 Mississippi Gulf Coast during Saturday’s MACCC Semifinals. Kickoff for Saturday’s rematch is set for 5 p.m. at A.L. May Memorial Stadium on the MGCCC campus.
Saturday’s other MACCC football playoff game has seventh-ranked Jones College traveling to Senatobia to meet No. 3 and two-time reigning conference champion Northwest Mississippi. The two winners from Saturday’s MACCC Semifinals will meet for the 2022 MACCC Football Championship on Saturday, Nov. 12, at a site to be determined by this week’s playoff results.
Saturday’s rematch between EMCC and Gulf Coast comes six weeks following the Lions’ stunning 48-45 come-from-behind road victory over the Bulldogs in which the Lions erased a 24-point deficit midway through the third quarter with six second-half touchdowns. The 31-7 deficit that the Lions faced on Sept. 22 in Perkinston was also the final score three years ago when the Bulldogs knocked off visiting EMCC in the 2019 conference semifinals on the way to claiming the MACJC and NJCAA championships.
As both teams enter this year’s playoffs sporting 6-3 overall records, EMCC and MGCCC are statistically both currently ranked among the top five passing teams in NJCAA Division I football. Along with rating fourth nationally in scoring offense with an average of 36.2 points scored per game, the Lions also rank second with 24 passing touchdowns and fifth in passing yards an outing (262.6 yds/gm). The Bulldogs stand third nationally in passing yards per game (271.9 yds/gm) as well as touchdowns thrown (22), while ranking 12th in scoring offense with an average of 33.7 points scored per contest.
Individually among NJCAA Division I statistical leaders, Mississippi Gulf Coast quarterback Pat McQuaide leads the nation in passing yards per game (262.7 yds/gm) and with 21 touchdowns through the air. He is also completing 69 percent of his passes on the year to rank fourth nationally. EMCC freshman signal-caller Eli Anderson, a two-time NJCAA and MACCC Offensive Player of the Week honoree, is currently ranked third nationally in pass completion percentage (69.5%) and fourth in passing yards per game (218.9 yds/gm).
With Stephens owning an overall 15-year head coaching record of 131-21 (.862) at the EMCC helm, this year’s Lions squad begins postseason play with a 6-3 overall record after closing out the regular season with last week’s 63-14 road win over Mississippi Delta to secure the MACCC North Division’s No. 2 seed with a 4-2 division mark. Headlining EMCC’s playoff-clinching win at Delta was sophomore quarterback Peter Parrish earning MACCC Offensive Player of the Week honors after accounting for 251 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns a week ago in Moorhead. The former University of Memphis transfer completed 16-of-19 (84%) passes for 202 yards and six touchdowns thrown, while also rushing for 49 yards on six attempts, including scoring the game’s first touchdown on an 8-yard keeper.
Guided by fifth-year head coach Jack Wright, Mississippi Gulf Coast also enters this year’s postseason with a 6-3 overall record after closing out the regular season on a four-game winning streak. Last week’s 38-24 home victory over Jones sealed the Bulldogs’ No. 1 seed in the MACCC’s South Division standings. MGCCC also knocked off division foes Copiah-Lincoln (31-28), East Central (35-0) and Hinds (34-7) during the month of October.
EMCC’s Stephens owns a 10-3 career record (7-1 in Scooba & 3-2 in Perkinston) against Mississippi Gulf Coast, including wins over the Bulldogs during eight of the last nine meetings between the two teams. Stephens’ Lions are 5-1 against MGCCC in postseason play, 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.
Under Stephens’ direction since 2008, the Lions own a 14-5 composite conference playoff record with seven championships (2009, ’11, ’13-14, ’16-18) and five semifinal-round finishes (2008, ’10, ’12, ’19 & ’21).
Saturday’s MACCC playoff contest between EMCC and MGCCC will be broadcast live online by WFCA-FM, out of French Camp, at wfca.fm with Glen Beard and Chris Threadgill 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 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, EMCC’s live video-streamed football broadcast will be available in HD at emcclive.com.