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Fifth-ranked EMCC Lions use balanced offense and stifling defense to blank East Central 59-0 in home football opener
 September 6, 2013

SCOOBA – The fifth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College kicked off their 2013 home football season in dominating fashion with a 59-0 non-division blanking of East Central Community College Thursday evening at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus.

Substantially out-gaining the visitors in total offense yardage, 642-88, on the night, the Lions’ offensive explosion was kick-started by their smothering defense three minutes into the contest.  After sophomore safety Allen Sentimore picked off Donnie Farmer’s pass on East Central’s initial possession, former Laurel High School teammate Dontreal Pruitt hit freshman receiver Kameron Myers on the next play for a 30-yard touchdown pass at the 12:31 mark.

Despite managing to respond with their longest possession of the game, the Warriors’ ensuing seven-play drive ultimately resulted in their first of nine punts in the contest.  EMCC proceeded to churn out a 10-play, 90-yard drive, which featured 68 rushing yards, capped by Lakenderic Thomas’ 1-yard scoring scamper.  His first of four touchdown runs on the evening made it 14-0 with 5:43 remaining in the opening quarter.

Just two plays later, EMCC’s stifling defense contributed to the scoring outburst, as sophomore linebacker Christian Russell scooped up Martin Johnson’s fumble and rumbled 19 yards for the score to increase the margin to 21-0 with 4:39 still left to play in the period.

The Lions’ stingy stopper unit then forced four consecutive three-and-out possessions by East Central.  Though slowed somewhat by a fumble, interception and missed 34-yard field goal attempt, EMCC’s offense still managed to add another 1-yard TD burst by Thomas and a 19-yard, Pruitt-to-Myers scoring reconnection in the second quarter.  Drew White’s first collegiate field goal conversion – a 36-yarder at the halftime buzzer – upped the margin to 38-0 by the intermission.

East Mississippi’s defensive dominance continued following the break, forcing three more three-and-out possessions to begin the second half.  For the game, half of East Central’s 14 offensive possessions resulted in three-and-outs.  In contrast, eight of EMCC’s 13 offensive possessions produced scores with seven touchdowns and a field goal.

As the Lion defenders continued to keep the visitors from crossing midfield in the second half, EMCC’s Thomas tacked on his third of four rushing touchdowns on the night with a 2-yard run at the 11:09 mark of the third quarter.  The former West Point High School standout finished the contest with a career-high 90 rushing yards on 13 carries.   

After EMCC freshman running back Preston Baker, a Starkville High School product, opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run, the Lions’ defensive secondary got busy once again.  On the heels of their three-interception showing during last week’s 49-6 win at Pearl River, the Lions matched their season-opening feat with three more picks against East Central.  With Sentimore duplicating A.J. Stamps’ two-pick effort of a week ago earlier in the East Central contest, freshman cornerback Quan Latham, of Columbus, capped the night defensively for the home team by rising above the intended Warrior receiver on the sideline to come down with EMCC’s third pass interception of the night.

Thomas put the finishing touches on the Lions’ balanced offensive performance at the 9:48 mark with another 1-yard burst into the end zone for his fourth rushing touchdown of the evening.  As a team, EMCC totaled 334 yard on the ground, led by former Olive Branch High School standout Todd Mays’ 124-yard rushing effort on 14 carries.  Through the air, Pruitt was 15-of-27 for 284 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.  The sophomore signal caller completed passes to 10 different receivers on the night, paced by Heritage Academy product Brandon Bell’s four catches for 54 yards.

Defensively en route to registering EMCC’s sixth shutout during the Buddy Stephens coaching era, the Lions limited East Central to 3-of-13 passing for only 39 yards plus the three interceptions.  The Warriors’ ground game was also minimized in being held to just 49 rushing yards on 35 attempts.   

The 59-0 outcome marked East Mississippi’s largest victory margin of the Stephens era, while the 59 points tied for the third-highest scoring total since he took over EMCC’s football coaching duties in 2008.   

The 2-0 EMCC Lions stay at home to entertain the visiting Bears of Southwest Mississippi Community College next Thursday (Sept. 12) in a 7 p.m. non-division contest at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus. 

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