No changes in Top 5; defending champion driven to save season

PITTSBURG, Kan. – For only the second time this season, the Top 5 in the latest NJCAA Football Rankings is exactly the same as the previous week. In a season that has resembled Milton Bradley’s popular board game “Chutes and Ladders”, the Road to Pittsburg for the national championship has been messy, and it just got tougher for the defending champion, East Mississippi (No. 17, 4-3).

The Last Chance U fan favorite started the season at the top of the rankings, and after a week one loss had managed to climb back up to the No. 3 spot. But back-to-back losses may be too much to overcome. Two weeks ago, they lost to Northwest Mississippi (now No. 2, 6-1). This past week, it was a 49-42 shootout loss to Holmes (3-4, unranked but receiving votes), where the two offenses combined for 1,005 total yards. East Mississippi is at Coahoma (1-6) this week, before finishing their regular season with homecoming against Northeast Mississippi (3-4). The Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges playoffs will follow.

In their 25-5 win, Mississippi Gulf Coast (No. 1, 7-0) held East Central (4-3, unranked but receiving votes) to 68 yards rushing and 87 yards passing. This week, Mississippi Gulf Coast hosts Pearl River (2-5), before going to Hinds (No. 6, 6-1) to finish up their regular season.

Northwest Mississippi won 54-18 over Coahoma (1-6). This week, Northwest Mississippi is at Northeast Mississippi (3-4).

Lackawanna (No. 3, 6-0) won 30-17 over Monroe College (No. 14, 5-1). After being down 3-7, Delvin Palmer had a 91 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give Lackawanna a lead they would never give up. Palmer ended the game with four kickoff returns for 184 yards, plus the touchdown. Lackawana hosts Hocking College while Monroe hosts Hudson Valley (3-3).

It was another 500 yard offensive game for Hutchinson (No. 4, 6-1) in their 49-7 win over Coffeyville (2-6). Hutchinson surpassed the 300 yard team rushing mark, with five players gaining more than 40 yards on the ground. Hutchinson next hosts Dodge City, and still has yet to face Garden City (No. 8, 6-2).

Kilgore (No. 5, 7-1) had a bye this past week, and hosts Blinn (4-3) for Homecoming this week. Next week, Kilgore goes to Tyler Junior College (3-4, unranked but receiving votes). Blinn is coming off a 47-44 loss to that Tyler Junior College team.

A local team is back in the Top 20. Fort Scott (No. 15, 4-2) won 36-0 win over Ellsworth (1-6). This week the Greyhounds are at Butler (No. 7, 6-2), who is having their Homecoming. Butler is coming off a 27-0 win over Air Force Prep.

Other ranked teams facing other ranked opponents this week: Hinds is at East Central. Hinds is coming off a 35-21 win over Copiah-Lincoln (3-4, unranked but receiving votes). Garden City is at Highland (No. 12, 4-2). Garden City is coming off a 43-27 win over Iowa Central (4-4, unranked but receiving votes), while Highland is coming off their upset win over Hutchinson. Cisco (No. 18, 5-2) hosts Tyler Junior College. Snow (No. 9, 4-2) is at Iowa Western (No. 18, 4-3). Snow is coming off a 39-23 win over ASA Miami (4-2, unranked but receiving votes), while Iowa Western is coming off a 20-3 win over Independence (3-3, unranked but receiving votes). Jones (No. 10, 5-2) is at Copiah-Lincoln. Jones is coming off a 35-3 win over Northeast Mississippi.

For the complete poll from October 14, 2019, visit NJCAA.org/sports/fball/polls.

The NJCAA Football Championship game will be held Thursday, December 5 at 5 p.m. CST at Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg, Kansas. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling (620) 235-4796, or visiting NJCAAFootballChampionship.com and clicking “Tickets”.

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