September 28, 2011 10:16:00 AM
SCOOBA -- The No. 4 East Mississippi Community College football team will close its only homestand of the season at 7 p.m. Thursday (WFCA-FM, 107.9) when it plays host to Coahoma C.C. at new Sullivan-Windham Field.
EMCC plays only four of its nine regular-season games at home this season. Fresh off a 48-7 victory against North Division rival Itawamba C.C. on Thursday, EMCC will face Coahoma in its only back-to-back home games of the season.
"Our brand stadium is beautiful, it's the best in the state," EMCC sophomore wide receiver Hamp Glover said. "We feel like our stadium really gives us a home-field advantage. It is really loud and makes for a great environment."
While the acoustics have been loud and the fan support has been great, the product on the field has been pretty good, too.
EMCC (4-0, 2-0 North Division) enters the midway mark of the season as one of two MACJC unbeatens. The other undefeated is No. 15 Northeast Mississippi Community College (4-0, 2-0). Those teams will meet Oct. 8 in Booneville. The contest could decide which team wins the North Division. However, Northeast must get by No. 10 Northwest Mississippi Community College (3-1, 1-1) Thursday in Senatobia to stay undefeated.
EMCC will play three of its final four regular-season games on the road.
"There is really nothing like playing at home," EMCC coach Buddy Stephen said. "We are excited about a chance to do that for a second straight week. The October schedule is a difficult one. We are pleased to be undefeated. However, we have to eliminate some mistakes and make better decisions if we want to stay that way."
The top two teams in the North Division qualify for the playoffs. The bottom four teams in the division are 1-15 this season.
Coahoma is 0-4 and 0-2 in the division play. It dropped a 15-14 heart-breaker to Holmes C.C. and followed that up with a 44-21 loss to Northwest.
"We respect everybody we play," EMCC sophomore defensive lineman Denico Autry said. "As a defensive unit, we look at every game as a challenge. We go out and try to make every stop. If the defense can make a big play and give our team momentum, we have done our job."
EMCC held ICC to 126 yards of total offense last week. The Lions scored on six of seven first-half possessions and led 38-0 at halftime.
Now, the challenge is to duplicate that effort.
EMCC is second in the state in total offense (503.8 yards per game), sixth in the state in rushing offense (142 yards per game), and second in the state in passing offense (361.8 yards per game). Coahoma is 11th in total offense (265.7 yards per game), seventh in the state in rushing offense (132.7 yards per game), and 11th in the state in passing offense (126.2 yards per game).
On defense, EMCC is 10th in total defense (344 yards per game), 12th in the state in rushing defense (183.8 yards per game), and seventh in the state in passing defense (160.3 yards per game). Coahoma is 13th in total defense (374.2 yards per game), sixth in rushing defense (102.7 yards per game), and last in passing defense (271.7 yards per game).
EMCC freshman quarterback Bo Wallace is 108 of 160 for 1,406 yards, with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is second in the state in passing, while freshman tailback Rodriguez Moore is fourth in the state in rushing. The Bastrop, La., native has 60 rushes for 401 yards and three touchdowns.
EMCC sophomore Lacoltan Bester is third in the state with 25 catches for 357 yards and four touchdowns. Glover is ninth with 21 catches for 224 yards and one touchdown. Eleven Lions have caught at least one of Wallace's 29 completions last week against ICC.
Stephens has carried the Lions to the postseason three times and won the North Division twice in his first three seasons at EMCC. A third North title is in reach, but EMCC first has to deal with Coahoma C.C.
"I don't think we will take anybody for granted," Bester said. "This team has worked too hard to get to this point. We are not going to give any games away. If you are going to beat us, you are going to have to earn it."
EMCC has won the past three meetings by a combined score of 145-54.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter