November 13, 2013 6:58:46 AM
SCOOBA -- After a few days of applying the finishing touches, the National Junior College Athletic Association announced its bowl lineup Tuesday afternoon.
As expected, No. 2 East Mississippi Community College (11-0) will face No. 1 Georgia Military College (11-0) in the sixth Mississippi Bowl at 2 p.m. Dec. 8 at Biloxi High School's Indians Stadium. Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. will be the host institution for the game, which annually matches the MACJC state championship against an at-large selection. This year, the game will determine the de facto national champion.
"The committee is excited about the opportunity to host the 2013 NJCAA Football National Championship," Mississippi Bowl committee chair Ladd Taylor said. "It's a tremendous responsibility, and our event staff is determined to make the 2013 Mississippi Bowl the best and most memorable one to date. It's also an honor to host these two fantastic NJCAA teams."
Georgia Military College, which won its lone NJCAA football national championship in 2001, completed an undefeated regular season Sunday with a 63-18 victory against Lackawanna College. The Bulldogs played 11 regular-season games with no state playoff. GMC began its season with a victory against Blinn (Texas) College at Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.'s A.L. May Memorial Stadium in Perkinston.
GMC dropped a 41-7 decision to Mississippi Gulf Coast in the inaugural Mississippi Bowl in 2008. This season, the Bulldogs lead the NJCAA at 299 rushing yards per game.
"It's hard to play at such a high level for a long stretch of time," GMC coach Bert Williams said. "I'm proud of our guys for maintaining that level of play throughout the season. I feel like we're at full strength heading into the biggest game of the year."
EMCC won its lone national championship in 2011. It completed its second undefeated season in three years Saturday with a 61-24 victory against then-No. 4 Jones Junior College in the MACJC state championship game.
In its lone Mississippi Bowl appearance, EMCC beat Arizona Western College 27-24 in 2009. The Lions were in line to return to that game in 2011 but were allowed to bypass that bid and played Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz., for the NJCAA national championship.
EMCC coach Buddy Stephens said this will be a big moment for his program and for the state of Mississippi since it will mark the first time the NJCAA national championship is decided on Mississippi soil.
"We have had some great accomplishments in the program already, but this is an extremely big moment for our state," Stephens said. "I am proud of this group of kids for setting some incredibly high goals and doing what was needed to be done every week to reach those goals."
The only other in-state bowl bid went to No. 14 Hinds C.C. The Eagles failed to qualify for the MACJC playoffs but will face No. 16 Navarro College (8-3) on Dec. 7 at the Brazos Valley Bowl in Bryan, Texas. No. 8 Jones (9-2) also was in the mix for postseason play but declined a berth.
Follow Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter