from school reports
The Meridian Star
Facilitated by the nation’s top two teams falling from the unbeaten ranks this past week, East Mississippi Community College has inched up another notch to No. 2 nationally in this week’s NJCAA Top 20 national football poll.
With former No. 1 Navarro College and reigning national champion Iowa Western Community College both losing for the first time on the year a week ago, a fifth straight dominating performance by head coach Buddy Stephens’ 5-0 EMCC Lions has secured seven of the nine first-place votes in this week’s NJCAA rankings. In getting just two more voting points (200.5 to 198.5) than EMCC and holding down the other two first-place votes, Georgia Military College vaulted to the NJCAA’s top spot from the No. 5 position after knocking off former No. 2 Iowa Western, 48-38, last week.
Marking the first week utilizing the NJCAA’s Football Computer Rankings, fellow Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College foes Jones County Junior College and Itawamba Community College moved up to third and fourth, respectively, among the NJCAA ranks. The JCJC Bobcats jumped six places following their 50-47 victory over then-No. 4 Copiah-Lincoln this past week, while the Indians of ICC improved three spots with their 27-21 win against Northwest Mississippi.
With the MACJC fielding five teams ranked among the NJCAA’s Top 10 for the second straight week, Co-Lin fell from fourth to ninth and Mississippi Gulf Coast stayed at the No. 10 position. Unbeatens Nassau Community College and Tyler Junior College currently stand at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, while seventh-ranked Iowa Western and No. 8 Navarro fill in this week’s NJCAA Top 10.
On the heels of Saturday’s NJCAA record-tying 90-7 Homecoming victory over Coahoma, the EMCC Lions continue to lead the NJCAA in both scoring offense and scoring defense. Having outscored their 2013 opposition by a composite point total of 337-13 on the year, the Lions are scoring an average of 67.4 points and allowing just 2.6 points per outing through the first five games of the season. EMCC’s quick-strike offense has bettered its game scoring totals each week (49-59-69-70-90), while the Lions’ stifling defense has recorded 18-of-20 shutout quarters on the year.
Now 49-10 (.831) overall and 29-3 (.906) in division play dating back to the 2008 season, East Mississippi will be looking to secure career win No. 50 and division victory No. 30 for Stephens when the Lions travel to Goodman on Thursday to take on the Bulldogs of Holmes Community College. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Ras Branch Field.
In Stephens’ six seasons at the EMCC football helm, the Lions have been ranked in the NJCAA’s Top 20 during 47 of the composite 60 weekly rankings dating back to the start of the 2008 season. Their ongoing streak of being ranked presently stands at 27 consecutive weeks spanning back to the kickoff of the Lions’ 2011 NJCAA national championship season. Over the past three seasons (2011-13), EMCC has spent 25 weeks ranked in the NJCAA’s Top 10, including 22 weeks positioned among the Top 5 nationally.