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Northeast ready for test on the turf
by Special to the Daily Corinthian
Oct 09, 2013 | 87 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SCOOBA -- A Northeast Mississippi Community College football team that has already been well tested in non-conference action comes up against its biggest challenge so far in league play tonight.

The Tigers travel to East Mississippi Community College for a matchup of teams that are tied for the lead in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Scooba.

This will be Northeast’s first visit to the new Sullivan-Windham Field. The Tigers are the last MACJC North Division team to compete on the all-turf playing surface since it opened in 2011.

For the second year in a row, WNAU-AM out of New Albany is the home of Northeast Tiger football on the airwaves. Join Jeremy Kennedy, the Voice of the Tigers, at 6:45 p.m. for the pregame show by setting your radio dial to 1470 AM.

Those that cannot pick up the broadcast in their area can still listen to the Tigers by webcast. A link to WNAU-AM’s live Internet stream is available on the Northeast athletic website, www.nemccathletics.com.

Fans not in attendance can also keep up to date during the contest with live in-game updates at the new home of Northeast sports on Twitter by searching and following @NEMCCTigers.

Northeast returned to its winning ways last week with a 27-17 homecoming victory over Coahoma Community College to remain unbeaten in MACJC North Division action.

The Lions have dominated their opposition through six games, averaging 65 points per outing while allowing only two touchdowns the entire season. East Mississippi sits at No. 3 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) rankings.

The contest will be against the third top-10 ranked opponent for the Tigers this season. After playing both then-No. 9 Copiah-Lincoln Community College and then-No. 10 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College very close, Northeast enters this matchup with a positive outlook.

“It’s been a big week. The guys have really responded and had a good week of practice,” said Tigers head coach Ricky Smither. “It’s going to be important that the kids play a full game. We’re going to have to be productive and on point offensively. Defensively, we’ve got to wrap up and tackle those guys.”

East Mississippi’s offense leads the nation with 615 yards per contest and is a threat with the both the pass and run. Starting quarterback Dontreal Pruitt has already thrown for over 2,000 yards and 23 scores.

C.J. Bates is Pruitt’s top target with 24 receptions for 378 yards. Bates is also the reigning MACJC Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a punt to the end zone in a win over Holmes Community College.

Miguel Graham heads a group of defensive backs at Northeast that aim to shut down Pruitt and the East Mississippi receiving core for the first time this campaign. The Maben native pulled in his second interception of the year against Coahoma.

Graham is also tied with South Panola High School graduate Gregdrecus Leland with a team-high four pass breakups.

Jamel Dennis continues to climb the charts as one of the best players on defense in the country. The outside linebacker from Oxford is second in the league behind Co-Lin’s Jordan Harris and sixth nationwide with 64 total tackles.

“You see it in practice that (Jamel) just loves to play the game,” Smither said. “A kid like that is going to be good.”

Jabari Edwards is coming off the best performance of his young career. He goes to East Mississippi after recording seven tackles, five of them unassisted, in the Tigers’ homecoming triumph last Saturday.

Jeremy Liggins hopes to light up a Lion defense that allows less than 100 yards per contest in both offensive categories. The Northeast quarterback is completing 50-percent of his passes for 401 yards in three games at the position.

Smither has been pleased with the progression Liggins has made since returning to his natural spot on the gridiron from the defensive line.

“We put him in a bad situation the last couple of weeks and asked him to make some throws,” he said. “We shouldn’t have done it, but he’s worked on those weaknesses that he’s had hard the last two weeks and has gotten a lot better.

“Jeremy is the type of guy that every snap he takes he gets better.”

The Lions are led defensively by A.J. Stamps, who has picked off three passes and returned one for a touchdown.

Northeast has found success in Scooba, claiming a victory during its last outing in the small Kemper County town 49-42 in 2010.

East Mississippi has claimed two straight victories though against the Tigers and also leads the all-time series 34-18.
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