FANTASTIC FOURTH: EMCC claims another national title

EMCC football players celebrate national championship.
For Starkville Daily News

East Mississippi Community College had to overcome a National Football League-size offensive line and a slippery quarterback to win a fourth junior college national championship at the Mississippi Bowl.

"They're good. They're really good," EMCC coach. Buddy Stephens said of Arizona Western.

On an unseasonably warm afternoon, Stephens' Lions were just a little bit better. No. 1 EMCC edged the second-ranked Matadors 31-28.

The Lions, which finished the season with a record of 11-1, led by 14 points three times, but needed to field an onside kick attempt and pick up one first down to clinch the victory.

EMCC went up 31-21 when Taylor Crabtree booted a 34-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter for what proved to be the margin of victory.

"I've kicked some game winners, but this was for the national championship so it had to be the biggest," Crabtree said.

The Matadors made it 31-28 when Bryce Perkins threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Dominick Anderson with 1:54 left.

Adrian Miller fielded the onside attempt for the Lions and Tyrell Price clinched the win when he ran 10 yards for a first down.
EMCC led 14-7 at the half despite being out-gained 180-72 and possessing the football for less than 7 minutes. The Lions scored two first quarter touchdowns in less than 2 minutes. Lindsey Scott Jr. threw a 13-yard scoring pass to Dontario Drummond and Ty Williams returned an interception 49 yards for a score for a 14-0 lead.
East Mississippi also had 21-7 and 28-14 leads, but Arizona responded with a touchdown each time.

Behind an offensive line that measures 6-6 and 300, 6-6 and 320, 6-3 and 290, 6-6 and 300 and 6-4 and 290 from left to right, the Matadors ran for 239 yards. Perkins, a transfer from Arizona State, proved very difficult for the Lion defense. Time and again he scrambled away from tacklers to make plays. He finished with 104 yards running and 139 passing as the Matadors out-gained the Lions 381 to 246.
It was the Lions' lowest offensive output of the season, which Stephens attributed to the Matador defense.

"We tried to block a little harder, (and) play a little harder," Stephens said.

Scott, who was chosen the game's Offensive Most Valuable Player, led EMCC by passing for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Ty'Ree Evans of the Lions was picked the Defensive MVP.

Arizona Western (9-1) suffered its first and only loss of the season..