Perkinston, MS – East Mississippi outlasted Arizona Western 31-28 to capture the 2017 NJCAA National Championship in the Mississippi Bowl. The title is the fourth for the No. 1 ranked Lions all since 2011.
Arizona Western, playing in its second consecutive NJCAA title game battled back from a 28-14 deficit to bring the game within three after Bryce Perkins tossed a touchdown to Dominick Anderson, his second of the game with 1:54 to play. East Mississippi recovered the ensuing onside kick and managed the clock to secure their first title since 2014.
East Mississippi's Lindsey Scott Jr. was tabbed Offensive MVP and was also named the Mississippi Bowl Committee Player of the Year following the win. Ty'Ree Evans was named Defensive MVP for the Lions.
- Scott threw for two touchdowns and 170 yards while connecting with seven different targets in the win. The freshman added 40 yards on the ground.
- Evans totaled 10 tackles in the game, including four solo stops and a defensive breakup.
- The Lions needed just 20:11 of possession to score 31 points, the 11th time of 12 games this season the team has scored at least 30 points.
- Arizona Western controlled the clock as well as total offense as the Matadors racked up 381 total yards compared to East Mississippi's 246.
- Bryce Perkins threw for 139 yards and ran for 104 while totaling two touchdowns for Arizona Western to earn Offensive MVP honors for the Matadors.
- Tyrik Jones was a force on the defensive end for Arizona Western, totaling seven tackles, a pass breakup, and a quarterback hurry to earn MVP honors.
- Ty Williams returned a 49-yard touchdown for an interception to boost East Mississippi's momentum in the first quarter.
- Greg Bell led all rushers with 123 yards on 25 carries and added a third quarter touchdown
- East Mississippi breaks a tie with Mississippi Gulf Coast and Northwest Mississippi for most national championships from a Mississippi school.
- The Lions are tied with Blinn (TX) and Ferrum (VA) for second-most national titles all-time behind Butler (KS) and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M with six.
- Head coach Buddy Stephens improves to 4-0 all-time in NJCAA title games.
"When you start playing football, you want to win a championship. You come to this level and win a national championship, it's a big testimony to all the hard work that we've done throughout the season" - East Mississippi quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr.