PERKINSTON — East Lindsey Scott Jr. threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to lead No. 1 East Mississippi to its fifth Mississippi Bowl championship, clinching an NJCAA national championship with a 31-28 victory over No. 2 Arizona Western.
East Mississippi finishes its fourth national championship season 11-1, while Arizona Western took its first defeat to finish 9-1. The fourth national championship game in five years at the Mississippi Bowl was watched by 3,186 fans.
After Dontario Drummond's 13-yard scoring reception from Scott opened the scoring, Ty Williams took a 49-yard interception return to the house to push the Lions to a 14-0 lead with 1:54 left in the first quarter.
The Matadors made it 14-7 before halftime Dominick Anderson's 3-yard reception from Jack Colletto.
Offenses took over in the third quarter, with the teams exchanging touchdowns. The Lions pushed their lead to 21-7 on Tyrell Price's 8-yard run before Greg Bell 7-yard run for the Matadors.
Kirk Merritt's 18-yard TD reception was answered by Bryce Perkins' 7-yard scamper with 1:48 left in the third quarter. Perkins was named Mississippi Bowl Offensive MVP for Arizona Western after rushing for 104 yards and a score and completing 18-of-32 passes for 139 yards and another TD.
East Mississippi's Taylor Crabtree made a 34-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 31-21 lead.
Arizona Western scored on Anderson's second scoring reception with 1:54 to play, but the Matadors failed to recover the onside kick and the Lions ran out the clock after one first down.
Scott was named Offensive MVP for East Mississippi and won Mississippi Bowl Committee Player of the Year.
Lions linebacker Ty'Ree Evans won EMCC Defensive MVP honors for racking up four solo tackles, six assists, one pass breakup and one hurry. Matadors defensive end Tyrik Jones had three solo tackles, four assists, one breakup and 1 hurry to earn his school's defensive honors.
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Mississippi Bowl Committee