EMCC wins football opener in easy fashion

Staff Writer

There were new faces and new names donning the East Mississippi jerseys on Thursday night but there was a familiar feel to the outcome at Sullivan-Windham Field.

On opening night in junior college football across the nation, No. 1 EMCC started its quest for a fifth national championship emphatically. The Lions welcomed in No. 13 Hinds Community College and sent them out with a 50-0 loss. It was the 21st shutout for EMCC under coach Buddy Stephens.  

“I thought our guys did a good job of running through our game plan and executing,” Stephens said. “We have some silly mistakes to get squared away. We can be a really good football team, but we’ve got to work through it and improve.”

It was quite the debut for Messiah deWeaver, who made his first start for the Lions since his transfer. The quarterback played just two quarters but made his mark going 25-of-38 for 323 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 39 yards.

“It was a blessing,” deWeaver said of his first game. “These guys are my brothers and it was great to see our hard work come together. It was a team effort and the defense shut them down.”

Hinds had just six first downs in the game and 81 yards of total offense with minus-4 rushing yards. On the flip side, EMCC finished with 559 yards of offense, 405 through the air and 154 on the ground.

The Lions didn’t take long to put a stranglehold on the Eagles. It was 23-0 by the end of the first quarter as Notre Dame transfer Deon McIntosh ran in an 8-yard score and deWeaver had touchdown passes to Rashad Eades and Kalem Reddix. Mixed in along the way was a snap over the punters head for a safety and an interception that had the defense putting Hinds in bad position.

It was much of the same in the second quarter with another run by McIntosh and two more passing touchdowns from deWeaver to Dontario Drummond and Reddix. It was a commanding 43-0 lead at the half and gave the Lions a running clock the rest of the way.

Helping deWeaver offensively was a plethora of wide receivers, 12 to be exact. Reddix led the way as the Gulf Coast transfer had seven catches for 102 yards and two scores. McIntosh had his own breakthrough debut with 84 yards and three touchdowns.

Making his return to the EMCC football team after a year away playing professional baseball, quarterback Vjay Miller played the second half and had 82 passing yards and 24 rushing yards in the win.  

Former Starkville High players Connor Reinike and Jakoby Jones started for the Lions on the offensive line and JaQuez Akins started at cornerback. Akins recovered a fumble in the contest and had two tackles with a tackle for loss and two pass breakups.

Next up, the Lions travel to Pearl River next Thursday night for a 6 p.m. kickoff. A win gives Stephens his 100th career win.

“It would be a nice honor to have, but you don’t want it to stop there,” Stephens said. “It’s an exit that you pass on the highway and you hope there are a few more.”