By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Northeast Community College Tigers had executed their offense flawlessly numerous times leading up to Thursday’s kickoff with the East Mississippi Lions.
At that point, the Tigers left flawless on the practice field.
Four turnovers the first four times the Tigers touched the football lead to 28 quick points, and Northeast never recovered as the No. 4-ranked Lions dispatched their North Division opponent 49-0.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Northeast head coach Ricky Smither said. “We came out all week long and ran this stuff to perfection.
“I thought we were able to have made this a fun game..”
Certainly, the way Northeast (2-5, 1-3) opened the contest would have most coaches ripping up their game-plan.
After holding East (7-0, 4-0) to a three-and-out the first possession of the contest, Northeast gives up an interception off a tipped ball on its second play. The Lions put the ball in the end zone five-plays later on a 7-yard pass from Quez Johnson to Billy Shed – both from Starkville.
The very next Northeast play from scrimmage, lost fumble. The Lions turned that into a one-play drive with Johnson hitting Nick Brassell for a 21-yard score.
Two Northeast plays later, a tipped pass was intercepted by D. J. Jordan from Starkville and returned 31 yards for a score.
Finishing off the demise of the Tigers, Shaquille Fluker picked off a Northeast pass. This one the Lions turned into a conventional 67-yard drive, capped by a Corey Smith 5-yard touchdown reception, and with 3 minutes, 25 seconds to play in the first quarter, East held a 28-0 lead.
“The first quarter was the difference in the game,” East head coach Buddy Stephens said. “Our defense played well the whole game.”
A solid Tigers defense kept the Lions off the scoreboard in the second quarter.
But East added a 2-yard score by Johnson in the third quarter. In the fourth period, Martay Mattox pulled in a 14-yard pass from Dontreal Pruitt, and Xavier Hogan scored on a 2-yard run.