November 20, 2017 10:17:28 AM
East Mississippi Community College is mourning the loss of one of its most popular football players today.
Sophomore Tyone Clemons was killed in a one-vehicle accident late Saturday morning in Jones County. A former All-State lineman at West Jones High School, Clemons died shortly after a wreck on Summerland Road, close to the West Jones High campus.
Timothy George Brown was the driver at the time of the accident, while Clemons was the lone passenger. Each was responsive at the scene of the crash. Clemons died while on the way to the hospital or shortly after arriving.
"Always had a smile," EMCC defensive coordinator Cliff Collins said. "He was a great leader, a great player. Our linemen were all close. This is hitting us hard."
The football players are home for Thanksgiving break. The holiday schedule includes no classes this week.
The No. 1 EMCC football team will face No. 2 Arizona Western College at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Mississippi Bowl in Perkinston. The winner will be the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national championship.
"We were devastated to learn earlier (today) about the death of Tyone Clemons," EMCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner said in a statement. "Please remember his family members, teammates, and classmates in your prayers in the days and weeks ahead. He was a special young man with a great future and he will be deeply missed."
The school announced the death via Twitter late Saturday night. Quickly, dozens of teammates took to social media to honor their fallen teammate. The school also posted a tribute on its Facebook page. Clemons was nicknamed "Philly" because he grew up in the Mississippi town of Philadelphia.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder had 21 tackles and three sacks this season. He was a backup at defensive tackle, but he had appeared in all 11 games.
Teammate Rodney Jackson tweeted, "My roommate. My Family. My heart hurts for you lil brother, rest easy, see you soon."
Across social media Sunday, many EMCC accounts changed profile pictures to "99" in honor of Clemons' uniform number. Many other Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) also weighed in with thoughts and prayers.
EMCC earned the right to play for the national championship by beating Northwest Mississippi C.C. 67-66 in double overtime on Nov. 11 in the state championship game.
On its Twitter account Northwest Mississippi C.C. wrote, "This is a time to put the rivalry aside, football is just a game. Our prayers are with the Clemons and rest of the Lion family."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
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