Junior Colleges

East Mississippi, Kilgore clash at Mississippi Bowl

East Mississippi CC coach Buddy Stephens
East Mississippi CC coach Buddy Stephens East Mississippi CC

East Mississippi Community College coach Buddy Stephens has never lost a postseason Junior College bowl game.

Stephens risks a perfect 4-0 mark as the third-ranked Lions (10-1) face No. 13 Kilgore College in the Mississippi at 2 p.m. Sunday at A.L. May Staduim. The Lions have won three Mississippi Bowls: 2009, 2013, 2014.

Under Stephens, the Lions have won three NJCAA national championships (2011, 2013-2014) and five MACJC state titles (2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016).

“A chance to represent the state of Mississippi, that’s huge for us,” Stephens said at the press conference Friday. “I told the guys we’re lining up with a team that has a star on the side of their helmet and represents the state of Texas. We have to take on that challenge.”

Both teams average over 43 points a game and led by talented quarterbacks.

DeAndre Johnson, who has a Texas State offer, leads the Lions. He’s has thrown 25 touchdown passes and thrown for over 2,500 yards. He’s also rushed for 750 yards and five TDs. Louisiana-Monroe transfer Chandler Eiland has accounted for 33 TDs and thrown for over 2,200 yards to lead the Rangers (6-4).

Two Coast natives are on the Lions’ roster: sophomore offensive lineman Hunter Godfrey (Pascagoula) and freshman kicker Taylor Crabtree (Vancleave). Crabtree has made 61 extra points and nine of 12 field goal attempts.

The previous eight Mississippi Bowls were played at Biloxi High’s football stadium. The game was moved to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College because of construction.

Kilgore, coached by J.J. Eckert, finished second in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference. The Rangers are 12-8 all-time in bowl games, but have lost three straight.

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones