East Mississippi Community College’s DJ Clayton returns a punt for a touchdown Thursday night in a 47-0 victory against Coahoma C.C. in Scooba. Photo by: Jason Dyess/Special to The Dispatch
October 19, 2018 11:03:52 AM
SCOOBA -- East Mississippi Community College freshman linebacker Fred Hervey doesn't tread lightly when it comes time to hand our praise.
"We have the best defensive line in the country," Hervey said. "It's not the best in the state. It's the best in the nation. When they play like they did tonight, that makes us the best team in the nation."
No. 1 EMCC will spend another week as the nation's best team after a 47-0 victory against Coahoma C.C. in Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division action Thursday night at Sullivan-Windham Field.
The victory helped EMCC (8-0, 5-0) clinch the North Division title for the ninth time in Buddy Stephens' 11 seasons as head coach. It also means the Lions will play host to a first-round MAJC playoff game Nov. 3.
The win included another monster performance from the defensive line, which was in on nine sacks. Earlier this season, the EMCC defense had 10 sacks in a 34-6 win at then-No. 2 Northwest Mississippi C.C.
"When they play like that, we are unstoppable," EMCC sophomore defensive back JaQuez Akins said. "When they cause problems in the backfield like that and take away what the other team is trying to do, that makes our job much easier on defense."
EMCC has two shutouts this season and 22 under Stephens.
Coahoma (0-8, 0-5) was held to 98 yards and moved only two possessions into EMCC territory.
"We are getting close to becoming the type of defensive unit that we want to be," EMCC defensive coordinator Cliff Collins said. "Really like the way we are pressuring the quarterback. You can tell when the other team's offense is out of rhythm."
On the other side of the ball, the Lions delivered a workman-like performance. EMCC rushed for 220 of its 314 yards.
Sophomore running back Deon McIntosh (146 yards, two touchdowns) topped the 100-yard mark for the fourth-straight game.
On EMCC's second possession, the Lions drove 67 yards on 11 plays. Messiah deWeaver hit Kalem Reddix for a 3-yard touchdown pass.
DJ Clayton ran a punt back 45 yards for a score early in the second quarter.
From there, the competitive spirt of the Tigers was badly shaken. EMCC scored 19 second-quarter points to build a 26-0 halftime lead.
"The offense hasn't come close to reaching its potential," McIntosh said. "The good news is we are winning games and scoring points. However, things can get a lot better. We are working on making that happen."
While the offense looks for its second gear, the defense is clicking along at a stellar pace.
The Lions had 17 tackles for loss but didn't force a turnover for the first time this season. Hervey was in on two sacks and four tackles for loss.
"He loves the game," Collins said. "As a freshman, it took him a little while to get adjusted. Once he was settled in, he has really become a dominant player."
Hervey had 12 tackles, while Untareo Johnson had 10 (four for loss). Terence Cherry and Lashawn Paulino-Bell were in on two sacks.
"When everybody contributes, we can become a special football team," Hervey said. "From the first practice to this game, we have come a long way. The defense communicates and plays well together. We just have a lot of speed, more speed than most teams.
"Once we get into the playoffs and then a bowl game, people will see how many great playmakers we have on this side of the ball."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.