WESSON — Behind a strong defense and the second-half play of quarterback Jamari Jones, third-ranked East Mississippi Community College got past Copiah-Lincoln Community College 31-7 in a non-division contest in Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference.

“I thought Co-Lin played a really good game, and they have a really good team,” EMCC head coach Buddy Stephens said. “Our defense played really well, but offensively we have to do a better job of executing.”

The Lions did score on the game’s opening drive as Jones connected with Duke Miller on a 5-yard touchdown pass to give EMCC a 6-0 lead with 9:44 left in the first quarter. Jones and Miller connected again from 29 yards out with 13:57 left in the second quarter, and Jones ran in the two-point conversion to extend the Lions’ lead to 14-0.

Co-Lin’s only touchdown came on the opening drive of the second half as Paul Hargrave connected with Tyquan Henderson on a 47-yard pass to cut the EMCC lead to 14-7 with 13:12 left in the third quarter.

Peyton Rodgers extended the Lions’ lead to 17-7 with a 23-yard field goal with 10:17 left in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Ethan Conner scored on a 4-yard run with 11:42 left to put EMCC up 24-7. Montae Spivey had a 11-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring with 2:12 to make is 31-7 EMCC.

Jones finished the night 18 of 29 for 170 yards with two touchdowns passing. The EMCC defense held Co-Lin to just 254 yards of total offense and just 8 yards rushing.

“Jamari did a good job of running the offense really well, and he has come a long way,” Stephens said. “He still has a long way to go, but I’m very happy with his progress so far. We have one more regular-season game, then playoffs, so we’re hoping to keep everyone healthy and continue to grow and get better.”

Hargrave went 21-for-37 for 246 yards and a touchdown passing to lead the Wolves.

“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first half, and that’s been our story all season,” Co-Lin head coach Glenn Davis said. “We dropped way too many passes and never could get in a rhythm.”

Both teams finish the regular season next week as EMCC (8-0) travels to Itawamba Community College, while Co-Lin (3-5) hosts Jones College.

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