BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The community college national football championship game took place in Biloxi, Sunday. Defending national champs East Mississippi faced off against Iowa Western. The game drew a big crowd, and proved to be a great opportunity to show off South Mississippi to hundreds of visitors. "We have all of our friends and a lot of alumnus," said Leamond Shaffer. "A lot of guys' kids actually play with East Mississippi, so we're just here tailgating and having a good time."
Shaffer and his crew are big East Mississippi Lions fans, and didn't mind making the four hour drive to cheer on the home team and hang out at the same time.
"The coast is very nice. I try to vacation down here at least once a year, every year, so we enjoy it. We're staying over there at Comfort Suites, and they're treating us like royalty for this game," said Shaffer.
"East Mississippi has brought a great crew. Of course, they're from Mississippi so they didn't have to travel as far as Iowa Western. I think both teams had a great turn out," said Bert Pickard.
Pickard is the athletic director at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and it's his first year chairing the 7th annual Mississippi Bowl. He was impressed by the turnout, and hopes the Iowa Western fans are enjoying their break from the Midwest's below freezing temperatures.
"The team actually left Tuesday night, and kind of made a little tour around the southeast. Certainly we try to help them with anything they do, because we want to make sure they have a great time," said Pickard.
Iowa Western running back Devon Paye found himself with a severe knee injury that forced him out of the game before halftime. On the bright side, it gave him a little extra time with his mother, who flew from Maryland to watch him play.
"Seeing the family with all their pictures, and me not being able to come, but just to this game, I'm having a good time. I cried when I saw some of the pictures with the family, but now I'm here and I'm having my moment with my son," said Royette St. Jean.
While the Gulf Coast is no Maryland, St. Jean seems to like South Mississippi.
"It's my first time here and I'm enjoying it. The people are very friendly too, and the food is good," said St. Jean.
The East Mississippi Lions won the game, making them three time community college national champions.