By Austin Bishop / special to The Star
SCOOBA — For the second straight week the East Mississippi Community College football team felt like it had a chance to win a game and for the second straight week the Lions came up short.
“We have just got to find a way to execute better offensively,” third-year head coach Roger Carr said after his team’s 22-20 loss to visiting Southwest Mississippi Community College on Thursday night. “We fought hard and played hard. I can’t fault that at all. We had some opportunities, we just didn’t take advantage of them and we made too many turnovers.”
“We had a touchdown called back on a big pass play, we got the ball down to the 12-yard line another time and got nothing out of it, we made some mistakes on our punting game,” Carr said. “We just have some things we have to work out.”
Thursday night’s loss coupled with last week’s 24-20 setback at the hands of East Central drop the Lions to 0-2 on the year.
EMCC had a 13-9 lead going into the fourth quarter of the game, thanks to a 38-yard touchdown run by Florida freshman LeGarrette Blount with 11 seconds left in the third quarter. The conversion failed, leaving the Lions with a four-point lead.
Southwest’s Bryant McLaughlin picked off a pass to give the visiting Bears the ball at the EMCC 33-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Three plays later SWCC quarterback Fredrick Jones scrambled out of trouble and found a wide-open Edward Gant for a 31-yard scoring toss with 9:56 left in the game.
The kick was wide left, leaving the Bears with a 15-13 lead. East Mississippi twice got the ball inside the Southwest 50 as the clock wound down, but couldn’t score.
On fourth-and-one from the Bears 41-yard line, McLaughlin picked off another pass for SWCC, returning this one 60 yards for a touchdown with 2:40 left in the game. The extra point put the winners up 22-13, seemingly sealing the game.
But EMCC came back, using swing passes to the running backs, moving the ball down the field, with Blount catching a deflected James Patterson pass and weaving and bobbing 41-yards for a touchdown with 45 seconds left. Cal Henderson’s kick cut it to 22-20, but the on-side kick attempt sailed out of bounds and the Bears were able to run out the clock.
Southwest scored less than four minutes into the game when Jones hit Damien Henderson with a 37-yard touchdown pass. EMCC took a 7-6 halftime lead thanks to a 28-yard fumble return by Marcus Rowe.
Southwest took a 9-7 lead with 1:06 left in the third when Tucker Hoge kicked a 28-yard field goal.
Blount rushed for 159 yards on 17 carries for EMCC, while Patterson hit on 10-of-14 passes for 154 yards.
East Mississippi plays host to Mississippi Delta Community College next Thursday at 6:30 p.m.