East Mississippi Community College sophomore linebacker Quin Jones sacks the quarterback Thursday night in a 49-10 victory against Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. at Sullivan-Windham Field in Scooba. Photo by: Jason Dyess/Special to The Dispatch Buy this photo.
September 8, 2017 10:28:29 AM
SCOOBA -- East Mississippi Community College graduate assistant Rodriguez Moore has high praise for sophomore running back Tyrell Price.
"He is going to be better than me, maybe even a lot better," said Moore, with a wry smile.
Moore has been working with the running backs this season. On Thursday night at Sullivan-Windham Field, Moore watched as his star pupil rushed for 108 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 2 EMCC to a 49-10 victory against Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.
On this rare night, the pass-happy Lions found the majority of their points on the ground. EMCC rushed for five touchdowns, while Lindsey Scott Jr. threw for 275 yards and another score in his second career start.
The Lions also received a 29-yard interception return by Quin Jones for the squad's first defensive score of the season.
"I really don't think of us as only a passing team," Price said. "We run so many more plays than most teams, so there will be some runs and some passes. You know you are going to get your carries in this offense. You just have to be ready to deliver."
Price became the first true running back to score four touchdowns in a game in Buddy Stephens' 10 seasons as coach. Quarterback John Franklin III ran for five scores in a win against Mississippi Delta C.C. in 2015. Short-yardage quarterback Todd Mays ran for four scores in a victory against Holmes C.C. in 2014.
While Stephens prefers to pass on pretty much any down and distance, he admits his three national championship teams have had star talent at running back. That group included Moore, who was a 1,000-yard rusher on the 2011 national championship team.
"We have three really good running backs," Stephens said. "I am glad we got all three (Price, Justin Connor, and Reginald Hunter Jr.) of them out there and got each of them some carries. The really elite teams can run the ball. They can run the ball with authority. It is a way to impose your will. I don't think people really appreciate the talent we have at running back. This may be the best group we have had."
EMCC ran 33 times for 165 yards, and finished with 465 yards. The second half was played at a brisk pace after Jones' interception return placed the mercy rule/running clock into effect less than one minute in.
Still, the Lions averaged 7.8 yards on 60 plays. It was a much crisper effort than a season-opening 47-34 victory against Jones County Junior College.
Scott joined the team during fall workouts and had practiced less than three weeks before the season opener.
"It was a totally different team tonight," said Price, who prepped at Lafayette High School. "You could tell (Scott) had a much higher comfort level at what we were trying to do. It just started in the first quarter and carried on throughout the game. We were getting the plays we wanted. All of the credit (goes) to the offensive line. They also played much better.
"They were getting the blocks on the edges. (Each of the backs) knew if we could get around the end, we could get a big gain. This is the type of balance we want to have the whole season."
EMCC didn't commit a turnover and had six penalties. The complete-game effort caught Stephens somewhat by surprise.
"We did not have a good week of practice," Stephens said. "When you have a new team, you have to learn some things about them. I have learned we don't practice well. That is something we are going to work on. You win games on Monday through Wednesday in this league. What we learned tonight is we have a chance to be a very good team, so if you combine a better attention to detail in practice with the type of energy we played with tonight, we can go 1-0 every week."
EMCC had scoring drives of 91, 89, and 94 yards in the first half. Back-to-back scoring runs by Price built a 14-0 lead.
Reginald Hunter Jr. scored on a 2-yard run in the final minute of the first half to help the home team to a 35-3 halftime lead.
"Everything we called worked," said Hunter, a freshman from Pascagoula. "That's a great feeling as a player. We just take that lead from (Scott). The running backs are just having fun. We work hard and push each other every day in practice."
Continued pushing is what Stephens wants to see in practice. The veteran coach knows the team could be destined for greatness if bad practice traits are his chief concern two weeks into the season.
"For the first-year players, this was a good experience," Stephens said. "They see that we are already a very good football team. Now, you have to embrace the challenge of becoming a great team."
Moore and first-year running backs coach Courtland Hayes will try to help Price, Hunter, and Connor reach that level.
"(Price) has all the skills and the perfect size (6-foot, 220 pounds)," Moore said. "He also has the right attitude. He has a chance to become one of the all-time greats."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
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