SENATOBIA – The East Mississippi Community College football team was held 10 points below its season scoring average and allowed only three fewer points than it had in its first four games combined, but the end result was the same.
Zias Perryman rushed for a career-high 129 yards and three touchdowns and caught a pass for a score, and Jamari Jones completed 19 of 33 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 30 yards and a score to pace the No. 6 Lions to a 30-21 win over No. 13 Northwest Mississippi on Thursday night at Bobby Franklin Field.
EMCC improved to 5-0, 3-0 in the MACCC, while the Rangers are 3-2 and 2-1.
The Lions scored the game’s first 27 points, including 20 during the first quarter, and threatened to run the Rangers out of their own building. But Northwest methodically cut into the EMCC lead and finally made it a one-score game with 5:38 remaining when Michael Hiers hit D.T. Sheffield for a 9-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 27-21.
The Rangers had threatened on their previous possession, but a 16-play, 68-yard drive that took up almost half of the fourth quarter stalled on the EMCC 12-yard line.
But Northwest could get no closer, and when the Lions responded when Jones hit Kevin Barnett around midfield for a 55-yard catch and run to the 18-yard line. That set up Peyton Rodgers’ 34-yard field goal that stretched it back to a two-score contest with 2:53 remaining in the game.
Aided by a costly Northwest penalty on a third-and-long play deep in EMCC territory, the Lions proceeded to go 74 yards on the next three plays for their second score of the quarter. Following Perryman’s 26-yard rumble and Jones’ 12-yard keeper, EMCC’s sophomore quarterback found Jontarius Henderson in the end zone from 36 yards out to make the score 13-0 with 4:27 remaining in the quarter.
The visitors closed out the first-quarter scoring by taking advantage of an opportunity created by their defense. After Keyon Fordham’s 59-yard kickoff return gave the Northwest possession at EMCC’s 39-yard line, Trey Laing stripped quarterback Michael Hiers of the ball from behind on the next play from scrimmage, and the fumble was recovered by Devonyal Lofton near midfield. Five plays later at the 2:08 mark, Jones scored on an 8-yard keeper, and Peyton Rodgers‘ subsequent PAT was good to increase the lead to 20-0.
The Lions maintained their momentum into the second quarter. Set up by a 45-yard catch and run by Arkansas transfer Montae Spivey, who sped down the right sideline before cutting across the field to the 18-yard line, EMCC’s seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive was capped by Ethan Conner‘s 2-yard keeper to extend the margin to 27-0 with 9:11 remaining in the first half.
The Rangers responded on their next possession by going 70 yards on nine plays to get on the scoreboard at the 5:41 mark when Jaquerrious Williams went untouched into the end zone from 11 yards out to cut the deficit to 27-7.
The only scoring of the third quarter came on the half’s opening drive when Northwest receiver D.T. Sheffield hauled in Hiers’ 3-yard touchdown toss over the shoulder in the back left corner of the end zone. Eli Hamlin’s successful PAT completed a 10-play, 73-yard drive to make it 27-14 with 9:53 remaining in the quarter.
Later in the quarter, the Lions, who finished with a 493-408 edge in total offense, couldn’t take advantage of a 12-play drive, highlighted by a 47-yard run by Perryman, which consumed nearly five minutes on the game clock. Rodgers’ 32-yard field goal attempt hit off the upright to keep it a 13-point contest heading into the final quarter.
EMCC’s defense essentially sealed the deal with less than two minutes left on the game clock with Lofton’s strip sack of Hiers around midfield that was recovered by Elijah Davis.
Jones once again evenly spread around his 19 completions to 10 receivers. Josh Aka and Henderson led the way with three catches apiece for 50 and 41 yards, respectively.
Next up for the Lions are two consecutive home division games. After playing Northeast Mississippi on homecoming at 2 p.m. on Oct. 9, they will welcome Coahoma to Scooba at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14.
East Mississippi 30, Northwest Mississippi 21
East Mississippi (5-0, 3-0) 20 7 0 3 — 30
Northwest Mississippi (3-2, 2-1) 0 7 7 7 — 21
EMCC — Zias Perryman 19 pass from Jamari Jones (kick failed), 8:52
EMCC — Jontarius Henderson 36 pass from Jones (Peyton Rodgers kick), 4:27
EMCC — Jones 8 run (Rodgers kick), 2:08
EMCC — Ethan Conner 2 run (Rodgers kick), 2:50
NMCC — Jaquerrious. Williams 11 run (Eli Hamlin kick), 3:30
NMCC — D.T. Sheffield 3 pass from M. Hiers (Hamlin kick), 9:53
NMCC — Sheffield 9 pass from Hiers (Hamlin kick), 1:50
EMCC — Rodgers 34 FG, 2:45