Garden City Community College trailed Hutchinson for 34 minutes and led for just more than 6. In that scenario, and for most teams, the passing stats for the trailing team might be a bit higher than usual as they try to catch up.
Not the Broncbusters, who threw the ball all of 11 times all game, and seven of those throws came on the final drive of the game. They stuck with their bread and butter — running the ball.
“That’s how you win in junior college,” GCCC head coach Jeff Sims said. “You do what you do. You teach your players it’s better to be great at one thing than good at a bunch of things.”
The Busters are better than great. They’re elite at running the ball, averaging an NJCAA best 307.6 yards per game.
“Offensively, they’re old school,” East Mississippi head coach Buddy Stephens said. “They’re old school in that they’re going to come down hill and double team, but they’re running it from different formations. God Almighty, you’ve got to love that.”
Love it as an observer, but perhaps not as the coach who has to help devise a plan to stop the Busters’ running attack.
Overall, the Lions have done a great job of stopping the run, allowing just 2.5 yards per carry for the season, and 88.3 yards per game, ninth-best in the NJCAA. That’s helped the Lions put the nation's top scoring defense on the field, allowing just 11.4 points per game.
The last time the Busters faced a run defense that good (at Hutchinson), they managed 181 yards on the ground, but on 3.2 yards per carry. Iowa Western’s solid run defense also slowed the Busters’ running attack.
But East Mississippi has been proven to be penetrable, at times, as well. The Lions allowed 277 yards to Holmes and 221 to Itawamba.
“That’s the beauty of this game,” Stephens said. “Which team is going to be able to execute what they do offensive and defensively better than the other.”
The Busters’ offense is led by a massive line, which plows open holes for two of the best junior college backs in the nation, Dedrick Mills and Charles West. Mills — a Nebraska commit — has 1,358 yards and 19 touchdowns, while West has carried the ball for 1,382 yards and nine scores. West is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and Mills 5.8.
East Mississippi’s defense is led by linebackers Fred Harvey and Untareo Johnson (86 and 63 tackles, respectively), and they’ve gotten 19.5 tackles for loss from defensive lineman Everett Cunningham, a three-star prospect according to 247sports.com.
Those three will have to take the lead in slowing the Busters’ run game because Stephens is not likely to commit multiple secondary defenders to trying to slow the run — not with what he’s seen from the limited times the Busters have thrown the ball.
“If they ever need to throw it, gosh that quarterback is really good at it,” Stephens said of David Moore.
A transfer from the University of Memphis, Moore has completed 61.6 parent of his passes for 82.1 yards per game and four touchdowns. Out wide, he’s got capable receivers, including Nebraska transfer Dominick Watt, who has 15 catches for 175 yards.
The numbers are not close to eye-popping with how little the Busters have thrown the ball.
“If they think that our wide receivers aren’t very good, well then that would be to our advantage,” Sims said, “because they’re tremendous. We have a great quarterback. Our offense has just been really, really talented.”
After all, it was that passing attack, led by Moore, that marched the Busters down the field for a 14-play, 84-yard drive to score the game-winner against Hutchinson.