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EMCC's Conner sees first action at QB

 

Scott Walters

 

 

SCOOBA -- East Mississippi Community College sophomore quarterback Timorrius Conner was ready to have his number called. 

 

The former Noxubee County High School standout played the second half of No. 2 EMCC's 49-10 victory against Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. on Thursday night at Sullivan-Windham Field. 

 

"It felt good to be out there," Conner said. "Being in the huddle was exciting. It was a long time coming, so I was excited." 

 

Last season, Conner was the third-string quarterback behind Florida State transfer De'Andre Johnson and short-yardage specialist Vijay Miller. 

 

This season, Conner looked like the choice at quarterback at the start of fall camp as the only returnee with experience on the roster. Things changed when LSU transfer Lindsey Scott Jr. joined the team in the middle of August and landed the starting job. 

 

"You have to keep working," Conner said. "You have to believe in your ability and you have to be ready when your time comes. If things don't work out, you have to make sure it is not because of a lack of effort." 

 

Scott has thrown for 704 yards and five touchdowns in two games. Conner didn't play in the season-opening victory against Jones County Junior College, but he was 4-for-6 for 25 yards in the second half to help EMCC move to 2-0. 

 

"(Conner) is such a gamer," EMCC coach Buddy Stephens said. "He comes from a tradition-rich program. He expects to play for championships. You need those types of guys on your team." 

 

Typically, EMCC uses a different quarterback in short-yardage situations. The Lions also have relied heavily on the Wildcat formation the last couple of season. Time will tell if Stephens takes this year's team in that direction. 

 

 

 

Defensive plan 

 

EMCC first-year defensive coordinator Cliff Collins missed last the game against JCJC to serve a one-game suspension for a benches-clearing brawl in the final game of the 2015 season. 

 

Collins wasn't on the EMCC staff in 2016 but returned this season, so he was suspended for the season opener. 

 

Collins was pleased with a performance that included the game's only two takeaways and limited MGCCC to 268 yards. 

 

EMCC was salty in the passing game, where it allowed MGCCC to complete 11 of 24 passes with two interceptions and four pass breakups. 

 

Quin Jones had a 29-yard interception return for touchdown, while Ty Williams also had an interception. Ty'Ree Evans had a game-high 10 tackles. Williams added a pass breakup as did Aarron Boatright, Keilos Swinney, and Duke Upshaw. 

 

"I knew we were going to come out here and have an opportunity to get our hands on some passes," Collins said. "We read our keys and were more disciplined. The guys really studied the playbook and locked in this week, and that's the answer we came out with." 

 

Collins attributed the timely disruptions to staying loyal to assignments in defending MGCCC's run-pass option offense in which select reads decide whether the play is going to be a run or pass as opposed to calling it as such from the sidelines. 

 

EMCC allowed its touchdown on a fourth-and-goal play. The Lions capped the dominating effort with a goal-line stand in the final seconds. 

 

"Good job defense," said Stephens in his post-game speech. "However, next time I want a shutout." 

 

 

 

Injury update 

 

The dominating performance by the EMCC defense came without some of its main manpower on the defensive line. 

 

Former Starkville High School standout Lorenzo Dantzler missed the win after injuring his knee against JCJC. The injury isn't severe, and Dantzler is expected back in late September. 

 

Fellow Starkville teammate and EMCC defensive linemate Maleke Bell has missed the first two games after suffering a broken jaw during the opening week of fall camp. Bell could be back as early as Thursday. 

 

 

 

No lights, no camera 

 

The game was played with little national fanfare. 

 

In 2015 and 2016, Netflix documented every home game of the season for the "Last Chance U" documentary series. 

 

While that series has moved on to Independence C.C. in Kansas for its third installment, last week's victory against JCJC still garnered national attention. ESPN was in Scooba for two days of promotion. Some live shots were done during the game, and Stephens appeared on SportsCenter minutes after the 47-34 win. 

 

 

 

Next up 

 

EMCC will play its first road game of the season at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Northeast Mississippi C.C. in Booneville. 

 

The game was projected to be EMCC's first against a ranked opponent this season. The Tigers were ranked No. 9 in the preseason poll. However, NEMCC, which was No. 16 entering this week, could fall out of the national rankings after an 0-2 start. 

 

NEMCC opened the season with a 27-21 loss at Pearl River C.C. On Thursday night, it dropped a 27-20 decision in double overtime to East Central C.C. at home. 

 

Stephens is 8-1 against Northeast. The loss was a 49-42 setback at home in 2010. 

 

Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson contributed to this report 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott 

 

 

Scott is sports copy editor and reporter

 

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