The 27-point victory over Coahoma extended the Lions’ winning streak to four consecutive games on the year and improved their record to 5-1 overall and a division-leading 3-0 in the North. Saturday’s triumph over Coahoma, now 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the division, gave EMCC its longest winning streak since compiling a four-game win string during the 1998 season. In addition, the win over Coahoma assures East Mississippi of the school’s first winning regular season since going 6-4 in 1998 under the guidance of former head coach Tom Goode.
The Lions struck early by capping a four-play drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Randall Mackey to Wayne Bonner barely a minute into the contest. Bonner’s team-leading fifth scoring grab of the year made it 6-0 after Phillip Dimino failed to convert the point-after-touchdown attempt. Coahoma answered with a 2-yard scoring run by conference rushing leader Timothy Graham at the 8:35 mark. David Gallagher missed his PAT try to make it 6-6 midway through the opening period. EMCC came right back with a mixture of pass plays and runs to move the ball 66 yards on 10 plays, capped by a 2-yard scoring burst by Starkville’s Pat Shed. Dimino’s PAT put the Lions back on top, 13-6, with 6:12 remaining in the quarter. Once again, the visiting Tigers had the answer as Katral James scored from 3 yards out and Gallagher connected on the PAT to deadlock the score, 13-13, with 13:29 left in the half.
Following a scoreless six minutes of action, sophomore free safety Jamar Hornsby ignited East Mississippi’s offensive explosion by picking off Marvin Pittman’s pass and returning it 45 yards to the 5-yard line. Mackey found Starkville sophomore Mike Outlaw from 6 yards out for his fourth touchdown catch of the season to make it 20-13 after the extra point with 7:48 remaining. After Coahoma went three-and-out on its next possession, the Lions needed just two plays to go 54 yards for another score as Shed bounced out left and broke tackles on his way to a 39-yard touchdown scamper at the 5:22 mark. The floodgates began to open a minute later when Shed and reserve defensive back Chris McFarland of West Point teamed up to block Gallagher’s punt attempt deep in Coahoma territory. Columbus’ Alvin Ellis recovered the blocked punt in the end zone to put EMCC up, 33-13, at the 4:17 mark. The Lions all but put the game out of reach less than two minutes later when sophomore Leon Berry hauled in Mackey’s aerial on the first play of their ensuing possession and bolted 54 yards to pay dirt to put the home team comfortably on top, 40-13, heading into intermission.
Shed capped an 11-carry, 84-yard rushing effort by pounding across his eighth rushing touchdown of the year from a yard out to stake EMCC to an insurmountable 47-13 cushion with 5:02 left in the third quarter. Coahoma managed to tally the final points of the afternoon on an 8-yard touchdown pass from reserve signal-caller Keondrick Brown to Warren Taylor at the 9:34 mark of the fourth quarter.
A 2007 PARADE All-American out of Bastrop (La.) High School, Mackey completed 17-of-26 passes on the day for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns. The nation’s statistical leader in both passing and total offense, Mackey now has a dozen scoring strikes on the campaign. Seven EMCC players were on the receiving end of Mackey aerials on Saturday, led by Outlaw with four catches for 48 yards. Bonner, Berry and Meridian’s Montrez Mosley each had three receptions on the day.
Aiming for their first state playoff appearance since 1984, coach Buddy Stephens’ East Mississippi Lions venture to Booneville to meet the Northeast Mississippi Tigers on Thursday, Oct. 9. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Keenum Stadium. EMCC rounds out the regular season by playing host to Itawamba at West Point High School on Saturday, Oct. 18, and then heading to Moorhead a week later to meet the Trojans of Mississippi Delta on Saturday, Oct. 25.