No. 6 East Mississippi holds off No. 5 Arizona Western 27-24 at Miss. Bowl

EMCC’s Randall Mackey (1) eludes Arizona Western’s James Smith (11) in the 2009 Miss. Bowl Dec. 6.

11-1 Lions use late turnovers to seal victory

BILOXI, Ms.—For all the hype about No. 6 East Mississippi Community College’s high-powered passing attack, it was the Lion defense that stole the show at the second annual Mississippi Bowl at Biloxi Indian Stadium.

Two late interceptions by Izauea Lanier and T.J. Ballou stopped potential rallies by No. 5 Arizona Western as East Miss. held off the Matadors 27-24 to up their record to a college-best 11-1.

“This is one special football team,” said East Miss. head coach Buddy Stephens. “The guys kept plugging away and making plays until the very last minute.”

The Lions were aided on offense as usual by NJCAA All-American quarterback Randall Mackey, who went 22-20 for 177 yards and three TD passes…the last one being a 5-yarder to Lance Lewis late in the third quarter that ended being the game-winning points. The win eased the pain for Mackey, who separated his shoulder after a big hit by Arizona Western’s Todd Wingate late in the fourth quarter.

The Matadors (9-2) had several chances to re-take the lead but the two interceptions by quarterback Brandon Gorsuch and two missed field goals by kicker Othello Kossigbo proved costly in the loss.

“Our special teams hurt us,” said Arizona Western head coach Tom Minnick. “We left 13 point out there today and you can’t do that against a good team.”

Six of those points came on the game’s opening kickoff as East Mississippi’s Derrick Steele took it 90 yards to make it 6-0 Lions.

East Miss. increased its lead to 13-0 later in the first quarter as Mackey hit Steele on a 56-yard TD pass.

Arizona Western’s Reggie Bullock (5) scores one of his three TD’s against East Miss. in the Miss. Bowl Dec. 6.

The Matadors finally got its power running game going on the nest possession as Reggie Bullocks plowed in from a yard out cutting the lead to 13-7. The first quarter ended with the Lions on top 20-7 as Mackey found Cedric Blanks on a 27-yard TD pass.

Arizona Western then scored 10 unanswered points as Bullocks broke loose on a 10-yard TD scamper and Kossigbo connected on a 216-yard field goal making it 20-17 Lions at halftime.

The Matadors took the second half kickoff and went 68 yards in four plays with Bullock scoring his third TD of the game on a 36-yard run to give the Matadors a 24-20 lead. Bullock finished the day with 30 carries for 125 yards and three scores. Arizona Western could’ve added three more to its lead but Kossigbo missed a 24-yard field goal later in the third.

From there, the Mackey and the Lions re-gained the momentum and eventually scored the go-ahead touchdown.

In the fourth quarter, Kossigbo missed another short field goal to go along with the two interceptions by Brandon Grosuch, who was 22-34 for 260 yards. His favorite target on the day was wide out Gashun Harris, who caught nine balls for 167 yards.

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