The Meridian Star
The East Mississippi Community College football team survived a sloppy start and regrouped nicely on Thursday, taking down Itawamba Community College, 59-13, to clinch the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior and Colleges North Division. The division championship is the Lions third straight and the fifth in six years.
“We didn’t have the greatest of starts,” EMCC head coach Buddy Stephens said. “Our guys were a little tight early on. I think that they’ve wanted to beat this team for a long time. Since last year, they’ve wanted to make a statement. But, I told our guys our statement is going to be what we do at the end of the year, not one ballgame.”
A day after being named both MACJC and National Junior College Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Week, EMCC quarterback Dontreal Pruitt led the Lions with 339 yards and three touchdowns in the air on 20-of-29 passing. Pruitt also added 80 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
“It feels pretty good any week to be consistent,” Pruitt said. “We just try to stay consistent week in and week out, and that just makes me feel good.”
The Indians received an early scoring opportunity on the game’s opening play from scrimmage when EMCC wide receiver Brandon Bell ran in front of a snap on a motion play from the shotgun formation resulting in a fumble recovered by ICC linebacker CJ Jackson.
Itawamba was unable to capitalize, however, as the Indians went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and were forced to punt.
With the ball at EMCC eight-yard line, Pruitt led the Lions 92 yards on 11 plays capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass to receiver Justin Mack to put the Lions up 7-0.
Later in the first quarter, the Indians would once again find
themselves in scoring territory. However, a 24-yard field goal attempt was blocked by EMCC’s Jimmie Gipson III.
Two plays later, Pruitt would make ICC pay again as he found receiver C.J. Bates on an 85-yard pass down the right sideline for a touchdown.
“The drive before, the corner was sitting on me,” Pruitt said. “He read me, and he made a good play. He made a good break on the ball and caught a pick. I kind of saw that, so the next time I just threw it over the top.”
The Indians answered back later in the quarter as quarterback Griff Loftis found tight end Archie Dennard to cut the lead to 14-7. The score marked the first passing touchdown the Lions had given up all season.
“We gave up way too many passing yards tonight,” Stephens said. “We have got to do a better job of working on our responsibilities. That will be key for us.”
With the Lions up 21-7 in the second quarter, EMCC running back Lakendric Thomas added his 10th rushing touchdown of the season with a three-yard run. EMCC kicker Drew White added a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the quarter, and the Lions cruised into the half up 31-7.
Thomas finished the day with 13 carries for 114 yards to lead the Lions on the ground. Todd Mays also had a big night on the ground adding 92 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
Bates led EMCC in receiving with seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown, while former Meridian Wildcat Antoinne Adkins tallied three receptions for 55 yards on the night.
EMCC will host Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 2 p.m. in first round of the MACJC playoffs.
“I think this game showed our guys where they have to bear down,” Stephens said. “It all has to do with preparation, so we have to bear down on that.”