SCOOBA — East Mississippi Community College sophomore wide receiver Hamp Glover says “The sky is the limit” for his team’s offense.
While No. 4 EMCC may have unlimited potential on offense, its effort Thursday night will work for now.
The Lions racked up a season-best 569 yards total offense in a 48-7 victory against North Division rival Itawamba C.C. at new Sullivan-Windham Field.
With the victory, EMCC improves to 4-0 and 2-0 in the division, while ICC falls to 0-4 and 0-1. After winning three games by a total of 10 points, EMCC scored 17 points in the opening quarter and led 38-0 at halftime en route to a 4-0 start for the first time since 1974.
“It was really good we jumped on them early,” Glover said. “We knew if we kept pounding them they would eventually quit. We are not close to our potential. The sky is the limit for what we can do offensively. We plan to do some really great things.”
Several statistics tell the story.
n EMCC ran 77 plays, while ICC ran 54.
n The Lions averaged 7.3 yards per snap and had 22 plays go for 10 or more yards.
n Eight of EMCC’s 11 possessions ended in scores. The Lions turned the ball over on the other three, the only turnovers of the game.
n EMCC entered the game last in the state in total defense, allowing 405 yards per game. ICC finished with 129 yards on 54 plays. The Lions had 11 tackles for loss.
“It was all about the goose egg (shutout),” EMCC sophomore defensive lineman Denico Autry said. “We didn’t get it in the end. That was about the only thing that didn’t go our way. It was a fun game. We gave the folks here a lot to be happy about.”
The Lions worked their hurry-up spread offense to near perfection in the opening 15 minutes. EMCC moved 66 yards on six plays, 61 yards on 10 plays, and 62 yards on five plays to build a 17-0 advantage after one quarter.
The scoring drives took a combined total of 4 minutes, 28 seconds. Rodney Davis caught a 23-yard touchdown from Bo Wallace. Taylor Walker kicked a 24-yard field goal. Rodriguez Moore followed with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“We felt like we had a good game plan,” EMCC coach Buddy Stephens said. “If we played fast, it was going to be to our benefit. We had to play fast and play smart. We had an excellent start to the game. It was everything we wanted.”
EMCC moved inside ICC’s 30-yard line on its fourth possession. However, a route was run incorrectly and defensive back Ashton Ballard intercepted Wallace.
That miscue provided a brief respite for ICC, as the Lions scored touchdowns on their next three possessions.
EMCC moved 62 yards on seven plays in 2:10. This time, Lacoltan Bester caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Wallace. EMCC then made it five straight marches of 60 or more yards. The 63-yard, six-play drive ended with Moore breaking a 27-yard scoring run around left end.
EMCC freshman running back Billy Shed, of Starkville High, then got into the act, catching a 15-yard touchdown from Wallace in the final half-minute of the opening half. Thanks to an atypical short ICC punt and long return by Davis, the Lions only marched 25 yards. Walker’s fifth PAT of the half made it 38-0.
“The best thing about this team is we make every opportunity count,” said Shed, who scored his first two touchdowns at EMCC. “Whether it is a starter or a sub, we are all ready when our number is called. Right now, we are working real hard as a team.
“The line opened holes tonight. We ran through those holes. We did what we were supposed to do.”
In the opening half, Wallace was 22 of 29 for 282 yards. The first-team offense worked the first two possession of the second half before giving way to multiple young faces.
“It was great to have a game like this,” Stephens said, “However, we have to learn how to put teams away and win games like this. We had too many personal fouls and bad decisions. Twice, in a third-down situation, we give them a first down due to a personal foul penalty.
“Those things will be addressed in practice. We can be a great team. However, to reach our potential, we have to be smart and disciplined. We let some situations get away from us in the second half.”
ICC erased the shutout after Wallace’s second interception. The Indians moved 21 yards on six plays and punched it home on a 3-yard run by quarterback Darren Daniel. That play came after a personal foul in the end zone set the Indians up first-and-goal at the 3.
In the final quarter, the Lions posted a 25-yard field goal from Walker and a 3-yard touchdown run from Shed. The final score capped a 68-yard march — the longest drive of the night and sixth EMCC march that finished in the 60s from a yardage standpoint.
“We have a lot of confidence because we are on a roll,” Glover said. “We knew we could be winners before the season started. There is so much talent on this team. This brand new stadium is awesome. It is the best in the state. We just have to keep our heads about what we are doing.
“If we keep working hard, we can keep winning and have more nights like this.”
EMCC had 25 first downs, 37 rushes for 208 yards, and a 29-of-40 night for 361 passing yards. ICC had 12 first downs and 41 rushes for 104 yards. It was 4-of-13 passing for 22 yards.
ICC punter Will Goodwin, a former Starkville Academy standout, averaged 41 yards on six kicks.
EMCC had eight penalties, including four personal fouls.
Wallace was 25 of 35 with three touchdowns and two interceptions for 324 yards. Former Noxubee County standout Termarcus Conner was 4 of 5 for 37 yards. Moore ran 11 times for 92 yards, while former West Point High standout Xavier Hogan ran 13 times for 71 yards. Bester had six receptions for 80 yards. Eleven Lions had at least one reception.
EMCC will play host to Coahoma (0-4, 0-2 North Division) at 7 p.m. Thursday. Coahoma lost to Northwest 44-21 on Thursday night in Clarksdale. The game mark the only time this season EMCC will play back-to-back home games.
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.