Looking to successfully close out their first three-game home stand since 2009, the seventh-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College are set to play host to fifth-ranked and MACCC South Division foe Mississippi Gulf Coast Thursday (Sept. 28) on the Scooba campus. With kickoff set for 7 p.m. at EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field, Thursday’s much-anticipated gridiron matchup will also feature the recognition of the five newest members of EMCC’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Head coach Buddy Stephens’ reigning MACCC champion EMCC Lions enter Thursday’s inter-divisional battle against the unbeaten MGCCC Bulldogs with a 2-1 overall record and 1-0 MACCC North Division mark after rebounding from a season-opening 23-20 road setback at Copiah-Lincoln with consecutive home victories over Jones College (47-23) and Holmes (65-17) during the past two weeks.
EMCC’s Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 consists of football all-Americans Lew Cornelius (1959-61) and Jaquez Johnson (2011-12), retired women’s basketball coach and men’s golf coach Dale Peay (1985-2015), baseball all-America pitcher Rusty Sanchez (1985-86), and all-region softball pitcher Courtney Nunn (2008-10).
Along with being recognized during halftime festivities of Thursday’s EMCC-MGCCC football contest, East Mississippi Community College’s newest Sports Hall of Fame inductee class will also be honored during a 4 p.m. pre-game reception to be held at the F.R. Young Student Union Center on the Scooba campus.
EMCC SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2023 INDUCTEES
LEW CORNELIUS (Football, 1959-61) – Played for East Mississippi’s legendary Hall of Fame football coach Bob “Bull” Sullivan and earned an invitation to compete in the 1960 East-West Junior College All-American Football Game played in Albuquerque, N.M… Transitioned from defensive end to the center position as a 6-foot-6, 220-pound sophomore… Played with his older brother, Ted, on the Lions’ offensive line during the 1960 season… Also threw the shot put and discus during his Scooba playing days… Signed with Mississippi State and played a portion of the 1961 season with the Bulldogs before transferring to Livingston State College (now the University of West Alabama) to become a teacher… Taught and coached before getting into school administration… Held high school principal positions in the Alabama towns of Thomaston, Millry and Gordo, along with having served as an assistant superintendent for the Washington County schools, before retiring in 1991… Born in Tampa, Fla., raised in Columbus, Ga., and currently lives in Columbus, Miss.
JAQUEZ JOHNSON (Football, 2011-12) – Starkville product who capped his EMCC football playing career by being named NJCAA All-American Honorable Mention after earning 2012 NJCAA Region 23 Offensive MVP honors as a sophomore quarterback for head coach Buddy Stephens’ 8-2 Lions… Finished 2012 ranked among the top five nationally averaging 284.6 passing yards per game with 27 touchdown passes on 227-of-383 (59.3%) accuracy… Also ranked as the Lions’ second-leading rusher as a sophomore with 540 yards and a team-most 12 rushing touchdowns… Amassed 7,237 career yards of total offense with 38 passing touchdowns and 19 rushing scores as a three-year starting quarterback at Florida Atlantic University… Enjoyed a breakout 2013 season for the Owls by being named Conference USA Newcomer of the Year after posting career highs of 762 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns along with throwing for 1,866 yards and 12 scores… The FAU grad is presently employed as a college and career counselor for the Osceola County School District in Kissimmee, Fla.
COURTNEY NUNN (Softball, 2008-10) – Two-time MACJC All-State softball pitcher for EMCC Sports Hall of Famer Kate Neely-McCarty’s EMCC Lions… Averaged a strikeout per inning over her two EMCC seasons by fanning 373 batters and posting 26 career wins… Collected 2010 NJCAA All-Region 23 honors as a sophomore after recording 16 wins and 217 strikeouts… Continued her collegiate playing career at Mississippi College, where she developed into the 2012 American Southwest Conference Pitcher of the Year after compiling an 11-5 record and 1.52 earned run average… Posted a career mark of 16-7 for the MC Lady Choctaws… Spent four seasons (2013-16) as an assistant softball coach at East Central Community College and served as the Lady Warriors’ pitching coach during their 2015 NJCAA Division II national runner-up season… Currently works as Clinton’s Director of Parks and Recreation… The Jonesboro, La., native worked as an umpire during the 2023 Little League Senior Softball World Series played in Delaware this past summer.
DALE PEAY (Women’s Basketball Coach/Men’s Golf Coach, 1985-2015) – Spent a total of 30 years serving first as EMCC’s head women’s basketball coach from 1985-2005 and then as the school’s head men’s golf coach during the following decade… Elevated EMCC’s golf program to a new level during his 10 years (2005-14) at the helm by guiding the Lions to five NJCAA Region 23 Tournament appearances during a six-year span, including runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2014… The Lions also made three consecutive second-place team finishes (2011-13) in the MACJC Men’s Golf Championship… Previously served as EMCC’s head women’s basketball coach for two decades… The Double Springs native earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education/administration from Mississippi State University in 1976 and 1979, respectively… Also spent nearly seven years coaching basketball, football, and track and field at Starkville Academy prior to beginning his collegiate coaching career as an assistant women’s basketball coach at MSU.
RUSTY SANCHEZ (Baseball, 1985-86) – Louisiana native who was a two-time all-state pitcher and helped lead the EMCC Lions to a two-year (1985-86) combined record of 78-32, including a region championship, a state title, and back-to-back seasons with national team rankings… Team’s leading hurler on EMCC’s 1986 Region 23 championship team coached by EMCC Sports Hall of Famer Bill Baldner… Posted an 11-3 record and 2.03 earned run average with nine complete games and 104 strikeouts as a sophomore to earn ABCA/Rawlings NJCAA Division I All-America Second Team honors as well as being named to the NJCAA’s All-Eastern District First Team… Had a 10-1 pitching record and 1.50 ERA as a freshman for head coach Terry Thompson’s 41-16 EMCC club… Signed with Southeastern Louisiana University but sustained a career-ending shoulder injury early in his junior season… Also inducted into the Denham Springs (La.) High School Athletic Hall of Fame this past summer… Currently resides in Walker, La., and works for Shell Pipeline.