MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Two former Richmond Senior football players will hit the gridiron in Mississippi looking to win a national championship.
Stephen Houston and Devante Covington helped lead Georgia Military College to an 11-0 record this season, a No. 1 ranking and berth in the Mississippi Bowl against No. 2 East Mississippi Community College with the National Junior College Athletic Association title on the line.
The Bulldogs won the championship in 2001 and were runners-up in 2002 and 2005. The Lions captured the title in 2011.
Houston and Covington are members of a Bulldog defense which is ranked 10th in the NJCAA. It has forced 36 turnovers, scored five touchdowns off those miscues and recorded 38 sacks.
Houston finished the regular season with 32 total tackles, had four interceptions, nine pass breakups and a sack, which he vividly recalls.
“The quarterback was rolling out on a bootleg and I hit him,” Houston said.
Houston also returned eight kicks for 302 yards, a 37.8 average. He also had a 62-yard return for a touchdown.
“I think I made some plays in games that contributed,” Houston said. “We are 11-0 and that is a team effort.”
Covington has recorded 17 total tackles and had a sack for the Bulldogs.
Since graduating from Richmond in 2012, Houston believes he has “elevated his game” and has more confidence on the field. Several four-year universities have noticed Houston’s play this season with the Bulldogs. He was offered a scholarship by Alabama-Birmingham and is garnering the attention of Eastern Kentucky, Georgia State and Murray State.
“Before school starts again I will be taking my visits, seeing what is the good fit for me,” Houston said. “The game and how I play in it will determine how many visits I will take and how big the school is.”
Houston added he doesn’t have a clear-cut favorite right now but the Blazers are out front.
“They’re the only one that as offered me a scholarship,” Houston said. “So they’re in the lead.”
The Bulldogs and the Lions will clash 3 p.m. Sunday at Biloxi Indian Stadium. The game can be viewed online at www.mississippibowl.com or www.njcaatv.com.
In addition to having a strong defense, Georgia Military also features the top rushing team in the NJCAA. The Bulldogs average 293.5 yards per game and have defeated their opponents this season by an average of 29 points. The team has only won two contests this season by 10 points or less. The first was a 22-15 win over ASA College Sept. 15 in Morgantown, W.V. The other came at home against Iowa Western Community College in a 48-38 victory.
East Mississippi counters with an offense which has scored 63.2 points and is averaging more than 611 totals yards per game. The Lions’ defense is ranked first overall and has limited the opposition to 7.7 points per game. The unit has forced 40 turnovers, scored eight defensive touchdowns and recorded 61 sacks.
“Without question, the best team we have face all season,” GMC coach Bert Williams said to The Dispatch. “If you look at the statistics, you just think they throw the ball over the field. When you look at the tape, you realize what makes the (EMCC) offense go. They have a smart, play-making quarterback and they have eight or nine receivers, who could play at very high-level senior college.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.