September 14, 2018 10:10:44 AM
FULTON -- East Mississippi Community College sophomore quarterback Vijay Miller enjoyed his homecoming Thursday night.
Playing across town from his high school home at Itawamba Agricultural High School, Miller had six touchdowns as No. 1 EMCC beat Itawamba C.C. 56-26 in Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division action at Eaton Field.
EMCC won its sixth straight in the rivalry thanks in large part to the hometown hero, who threw for 345 yards (with three touchdowns) and rushed for 65 yards (with three touchdowns).
"This was a lot of fun," Miller said. "It wasn't a perfect game for the offense, so that's a little disappointing. However, it was fun to play here and have this kind of game in front of friends and family. My support has always been great. Tonight it was over the top. It was fun playing this game and thanking the people who have supported me."
Miller paused for numerous photos, handshakes, and hugs after the game.
In his senior season at Itawamba AHS, Miller threw for 2,394 yards and 23 touchdowns. Offers from senior colleges were passed over because baseball players can become draft eligible after one junior college season.
After Miller played football and baseball at EMCC during the 2016-17 school year, the San Diego Padres selected him in the 14th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft, which meant no football in 2017.
In 2018, Miller pitched for the Padres organization in the summer and was granted permission to play football in the fall.
Miller returned to EMCC one day before a season-opening victory against Hinds C.C. Miller played in the second half of that game and then played the final two-thirds of a win at Pearl River C.C.
After throwing for 234 yards and two touchdowns against PRCC, Miller earned MACJC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
On Thursday, Miller was 23-for-36 for a career-high 345 yards.
"It's like he never left," EMCC sophomore wide receiver Dontario Drummond said. "It's amazing he does what he does. Just from the first day he was back, it was like he was never gone. The chemistry was just dead on. That's a little scary."
With the EMCC roster made up of two-year players, Miller has had to quickly bond with new receivers.
Drummond had four receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Ten receivers caught balls from Miller and Messiah deWeaver, who quarterbacked the final couple of possessions.
"This offense hasn't even scratched its potential," Miller said. "There is so much more we want to do."
EMCC had 629 yards but did committed two turnovers. EMCC coach Buddy Stephens also wasn't pleased with 12 penalties for 116 yards.
In the end, EMCC still topped 50 points for the third-straight game for the first time since Sept. 29-Oct. 15, 2016.
"This group of receivers is insane," Drummond said. "I am just blessed to be a part of this. We are headed to something special."
In his first year at EMCC, Miller threw for 599 yards and six touchdowns as the understudy to DeAndre Johnson. Miller drew one start. In a 44-42 win at Itawamba, he completed his only pass attempt for 16 yards.
Former Caledonia High School standout Jamel Thomas led all receivers with a career-high 11 catches for 141 yards and one touchdown for ICC.
ICC quarterback Clark Mills was 21-for-39 for 236 yards with a 35-yard touchdown to Thomas.
"The offense is making strides," Thomas said. "There are some new guys playing with us, so it's been an adjustment period. Hopefully, we can keep striving for some more big plays in the passing game."
This and that
EMCC won its sixth-straight game against ICC ... The Lions have won their North Division opener 10 times in Buddy Stephens' 11 seasons as head coach ... EMCC has topped the 50-point mark in three-straight games to start the season for the first time under Stephens ... EMCC scored a touchdown on eight of 16 possessions.
Around the MACJC
Michael Baugus made field goals of 27 and 37 yards, the second of which turned out to be the winning points in Northeast Mississippi C.C.'s 20-18 victory against Coahoma C.C. in Booneville. Northeast Mississippi improved to 1-2 and 1-0 in the division, while Coahoma slipped to 0-3 and 0-1.
Coahoma C.C. had a chance to tie the game late after a blocked punt set up a 3-yard touchdown run for Jaylin Jones. But the Tigers' two-point try failed.
Copiah-Lincoln C.C. blanked Pearl River C.C. 49-0 on Thursday night in Wesson. Hayden Davis threw two touchdown passes, and Rico Owens scored on a 33-yard run to help Co-Lin (2-1, 1-0) take a 21-0 lead after one quarter. PRCC is 0-3 and 0-1.
n In other action, East Central C.C. edged Southwest Mississippi C.C. 28-21, No. 16 Jones County Junior College rallied for a 28-25 victory against Hinds C.C., No. 18 Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. rolled to a 48-14 victory against Holmes C.C., and No. 5 Northwest Mississippi C.C. defeated Mississippi Delta C.C. 59-16. Former West Point High standout Chris Calvert rushed for three scores.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.