No. 4 Co-Lin hosting No. 1 East Mississippi
WESSON – The No. 4 Copiah-Lincoln Wolfpack are hoping that the third time is the charm when they face off with the two-time defending national champion No. 1 East Mississippi Lions on Thursday in Wesson.
It will be the third time for the two teams to meet in the last two seasons with the Lions coming away as big winners in the previous matchups. In week two of last season, then No. 3 Co-Lin traveled to Scooba and took a 46-10 loss at the hands of the Lions. A rematch took place in the 2014 MACJC State Championship, a game that East Mississippi won 54-15.
East Mississippi has won 25 consecutive games, one away from tying the longest winning streak in NJCAA history, a record currently held by Blinn College (1995-1997). The last loss for East Mississippi came in the 2012 MACJ Semifinals when Co-Lin used a last second kickoff return to shock the Lions, 47-46 in Scooba.
Last week, in a 69-20 season opening win over Southwest, the Lions posted 764 yards of offense. The NASCAR-fast Lions offense ran 99 plays and gained 385 yards through the air and 379 yards on the ground. Running back DJ Law rushed 13 times for 142 yards and one touchdown. Twelve different receivers caught a pass for the Lions as they also used two quarterbacks, Florida State transfer John Franklin III and sophomore Wyatt Roberts.
Keeping the ball out of the hands of the Lion defense is a task that Co-Lin must complete in order to have success. Four first half turnovers were the undoing of the Wolfpack in the last meeting between the two teams. Defensive end DeShawn Tillman led the East Mississippi defense against Southwest with nine tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble.
Co-Lin, coming off of a 26-14 road win over Itawamba, moved up to No. 4 from No. 7 in the latest NJCAA Top 20 Poll. Against the Indians, Lakedric Lee led the Co-Lin ground attack with 129 yards on 20 carries. Sophomore Julius Craft caught a team high seven passes for 93 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Garrett Kruzcek finished 26-of-44 for 296 yards and one touchdown.
Linebacker Zachary Williams led the Co-Lin defense with nine tackles and one interception against Itawamba. Fellow linebacker Michael Graham also recorded nine tackles, three of which were for a loss.
Co-Lin kicker/punter Greg Nickles was named MACJC Special Teams Player of the Week after scoring 14 points (4-for-4 field goals) in the win over Itawamba.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Stone Stadium in Wesson. The game will be broadcast on WMJU 104.3 in Brookhaven and will be video webcast on colinathletics.com.