Fulton, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College football team reaches the midway point of the 2018 campaign by renewing hostilities with its long time rival.
The Tigers travel to Itawamba Community College on Thursday, September 27. Kickoff for the 59th edition of this storied series is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Eaton Field.
Those that cannot attend the matchup can watch it live and in high definition on NEMCCTV. Tune in starting at 6 p.m. for the pregame show by visiting www.nemcctv.com on any computer, smartphone or tablet device.
The Northeast Broadcasting Network also includes radio affiliate WOWL Fun 91. An audio simulcast featuring Jody Presley and Carter Smith, the Voices of the Tigers, can be heard on frequencies 91.9 FM from Burnsville, 92.9 FM from Florence, Ala., and 102.3 FM from Killen, Ala.
It is the second consecutive year in which these two adversaries have met in Fulton. Itawamba won that matchup after Northeast prevailed the previous season at Tiger Stadium by a 30-12 margin.
"It's about the communities engaged and the people around here," said Tigers head coach Greg Davis. "For us, this means everything. Number one we've got to get back in the win column. We have to come out, compete and show up with a presence. That's the biggest thing."
The two teams will engage in a battle of opposite strengths. Northeast's defense is fourth in the Magnolia State and among the top 20 nationally with just 267.8 yards allowed per game while the Indians' offense ranks fourth in the league with 423 yards each contest.
Defensive ends Emmanuel Olenga and Sam Williams guide the Tigers' potent defensive efforts. The duo has combined for a sensational 24 tackles for loss and 11 sacks through their first four outings of the season.
Williams, who is committed to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), actually leads the entire country with 14 tackles for loss individually while Campbell (N.C.) University transfer Olenga is right behind him in seventh place with 10 stops in the backfield.
University of Houston (Texas) commit Terrance Edgeston paces Northeast with 38 tackles overall while Juwan Taylor, who was the Tigers' top tackler one year ago, is second on the squad with 34 takedowns.
Northeast (1-3, 1-1) has forced six turnovers, including five fumbles. Morton High School graduate Jeremiah Boyd has a fumble recovery and interception to head that effort with both of those coming against Holmes Community College one week ago.
Freshman Clark Mills directs Itawamba offensively with a 56.9 percent passing rate with 625 yards to go with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Jamel Thomas is by far his top target with 25 receptions for 377 yards and three scores.
The Indians (2-2, 1-1) are last in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in total defense by allowing 481.5 yards per contest. The Tigers oppositely post an average of 305 yards.
Northwest Rankin High School alumnus Montel Gladney has a team-high 14 catches while Kortlon Hubbard of Jackson's Forest Hill High School has the most yards gained of any wideout for the Tigers with 160.
Jalen Cobbs has compiled a team-best 42 rushing attempts for Northeast with 230 yards and a touchdown. His fellow Corinthian in Michael Baugus is exceptional in the special teams department with four made field goals in the last two games.
Linebackers Tay Carothers and Keshun Parker contribute to Itawamba's defensive plans with a total of 16 tackles of loss between them. The Indians have six interceptions as a unit.
"It's what we do that matters," Davis said. "We've got to start fast on offense and defense. We've got to play faster than what we've ever played. Our offensive line is going to have to control the line of scrimmage."
Itawamba is ahead in the all-time series over the Tigers by a 38-17-3 margin. Northeast's last win on the road against the Indians came in a 24-13 decision during the 2004 campaign.