In the closing seconds of East Mississippi Community College’s road game Thursday against Mississippi Delta, EMCC radio play-by-play commentator Jason Crowder summed it up best.
“EMCC’s gonna go to 3-1, but this is one of those games that they’re not gonna be happy about,” Crowder said.
It was indeed a sloppy game for the Lions by their own standards, but there’s something to be said that a 41-23 win that was a competitive game for roughly five minutes feels like a letdown.
EMCC looked far from perfect against winless Delta, committing plenty of penalties and turnovers and allowing too many big plays to a Trojans team that hadn’t scored more than 17 points yet this season.
But if the Lions were sleepwalking, they still sleepwalked their way to an easy win, and that’s got to count for something.
It almost seemed like they’d slept right through the 7 p.m. start when Keon Moore fumbled to kill EMCC’s opening drive and Connor Neville’s interception in the end zone was returned into EMCC’s own red zone, but the Lions still came out of the first quarter with a 6-3 lead, and they increased it from there.
Delta’s Dejhon Polk put the ball on the turf on the very first play of the second quarter, and Neville found Jason Brownlee in the back of the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown on the very next play.
Delta cut the lead to 13-10 when backup quarterback Byron Walker stepped up and found Labarron Jones for the first of two passing scores Thursday, but a late EMCC score pushed away any chances of a Trojan victory.
Jamari Jones came in for Neville near the goal line to punch in a 1-yard rushing touchdown with 1 minute, 44 seconds left in the half, completing a 9-play, 90-yard drive and helping the Lions find some breathing room.
EMCC jumped out in the third to really put the game away, as Zias Perryman scored on a 1-yard run on the Lions’ first drive of the half, a 12-play, 84-yard affair. Moore finished off another long drive with under a minute left in the third quarter, taking the ball in from five yards out.
Delta and EMCC traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with the Lions getting creative for theirs, as Jamari Jones found defensive tackle Julius Coates for a 4-yard passing score. The Trojans recovered a fumble with 1:32 left, and Walker connected with Labarron Jones for a second score.
Overall, the Lions nearly doubled up the Trojans in total yards with 538 to Delta’s 270, showing that while turnovers and plenty of penalties — the teams combined for 23 flags worth 218 yards — may be a problem, EMCC’s offense can still gain yardage pretty much at will.
But the Lions will have their toughest test since the season opener at Hinds, and everyone knows the result there. East Central, which posted its second straight shutout Thursday with a 35-0 win over Pearl River, will visit Scooba at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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