August 30, 2013 11:26:45 AM
Scott Walters - [email protected]
POPLARVILLE -- East Mississippi Community College football coach Buddy Stephens really enjoys defensive touchdowns.
Another one of Stephens' favorite things is a special teams score.
The No. 8 Lions had one of each Thursday night in a 49-6 victory against Pearl River C.C. at Dobie Holden Stadium to make Stephens feel like a proud papa on graduation morning.
A.J. Stamps ended the first half with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown. C.J. Bates ran a punt back 62 yards for a score in the third quarter.
"We have tremendous amount of speed all over the field," Stephens said. "I think you will see us have the ability to break open games in more ways than ever before."
It was the first time in Stephens' six seasons at EMCC that the team scored a defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown in the same game.
Two quarterbacks for Lions
EMCC entered the season opener with sophomore quarterback Dontreal Pruitt as the undisputed starter.
Pruitt didn't disappoint as he was 21 of 33 for 259 yards and four touchdowns. After a three-and-out first possession, EMCC scored on four-straight possessions.
"Dontreal is really a leader in every sense of the word," EMCC sophomore wide receiver Brandon Bell said. "We have a lot of confidence in him. He makes the offense go."
Todd Mays transferred to EMCC after redshirting one season at Arkansas State University. Mays was one of the state of Mississippi's top quarterback prospects when he graduated from Olive Branch High School.
Mays is expected to see time as a running back and quarterback this season. On Thursday, Mays quarterbacked the final possession. Despite holding a 42-6 lead, EMCC ran the hurry-up offense to near perfection. May finished with seven rushes for 33 yards and was 2 of 3 for 21 yards.
With the game clock expiring, former Starkville High standout Preston Baker scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 1-yard dive.
"There will be a lot of situations where (Pruitt and Mays) are out there at the same time," Stephens said. "There are some unbelievable options are we are looking at."
Stephens improved to 5-1 in season openers. ... The Lions have now won seven-straight games against teams from the South Division. ... The EMCC four takeaways on defense included two interceptions by Stamps, one by Allen Sentimore, and a fumble recovery by Isaac Johnson. ... The Lions had 400 yards of total offense, a mark they reached in eight of 10 games last season. ... The victory spoiled the PRCC coaching debut of William Jones, who spent the past five seasons as defensive coordinator with EMCC. ... PRCC has now dropped four-straight season openers. ... EMCC will play East Central C.C. next week. ECCC lost to No. 16 Itawamba C.C. 40-7 Thursday night
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter