River rally falls short; Perk 19-17 winner

            POPLARVILLE --- Pearl River Community College put together a late fourth-quarter scoring drive, but came up short in its 19-17 MACJC South Division loss to 10th-ranked arch-rival Mississippi Gulf Coast here Thursday in Dobie Holden Stadium.
            The Wildcats trailed 19-10 in the final two minutes of the game, but quarterback Shaun White out of Catholic High in Pensacola, Fla., found Chad Cook of Long Beach High in the end zone with a 41-yard touchdown pass with 1:28 left.
Brandon King of Florence High booted the PAT to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to two, then his ensuing onside kickoff was recovered by Antron Watts of East Marion High only to see Watts’ effort nullified after officials ruled a River player had touched King’s boot before it traveled the necessary 10 yards.
Three MGCCC snaps later the game ended and PRCC dropped to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in division play. Gulf Coast, on the other hand, improved to 5-1 and 2-1 to remain in contention for the first round of the MACJC playoffs which start Nov. 2.
“They (Gulf Coast) made plays when they had to…we didn’t,” said first-year Wildcat head coach William Jones. “I was proud of our effort…we played hard and never gave up. But we’re a team that’s still in the process of learning how to win football games. We came up short this go around.”
The Wildcats gave up 13 Bulldog points in the first eight minutes of the contest. After PRCC went three and out on the game’s opening possession, King’s 44-yard unreturned punt put MGCCC in business at its own 22.
Five straight running plays pushed things to the Wildcat 42, then quarterback Terrian Page hit Ishmel Morrow with a 31-yard completion to the 11. Three snaps later, Antwon Wells plowed in for a two-yard TD. Tristan Edwards’ extra point made it 7-0 with 8:52 left in the first period.
Four plays into Pearl River’s ensuing possession, White fumbled after being sacked for a minus-13 and Tavaras Bingham picked up the miscue and returned it 23 yards to the end zone. Edwards’ PAT was no good, but the Bulldogs led 13-0 with 7:09 left in the quarter.
Cook returned the ensuing kickoff 28 yards to his own 31, setting the stage for White’s 68-yard touchdown pass to Austin Watts of Sumrall High two snaps later. King’s extra point made it 13-7 with 6:08 left in the first.
Gulf Coast drove 61 yards in 13 plays to The River 26, but the drive stalled and Edwards’ 37-yard field goal sailed wide on the first snap of the second quarter.
On the Bulldogs’ next possession, Gulf Coast drove 74 yards in 14 plays to the Wildcat one where The River defense put together an impressive stand and four snaps later Edwards’ booted an 18-yard field goal to make it 16-7 with 5:18 left in the half.
The two teams exchanged punts and White threw three straight incompletions to end the half.
            King kicked a 25-yard field goal on Pearl River’s first possession of the third quarter to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 16-10 with 4:06 left in the period. The Wildcats drove 64 yards in 15 plays to the Bulldog eight to set up King’s effort with White going seven of nine through the air for a combined 52 yards in the series.
After an exchange of punts, Edwards booted a 21-yard field goal to make it 19-10 with 9:40 left, capping a nine-play, 73-yard drive to the Wildcat four.
After another exchange of punts, PRCC cranked up its final drive of the night at its own 20 and drove to the MGCCC 41 in 10 plays where White hit Cook in the end zone for the final TD of the contest. King’s PAT was good.
Three Bulldog snaps later, the game ended.
            Gulf Coast had a 14-10 edge over Pearl River in first downs, while generating 330 yards of total offense (193 rush, 137 pass) to the Wildcats’ 249 (53 rush, 196 pass).
            White went 15 of 28 (no interceptions) for all the PRCC aerial yardage, while page was seven of 12 (no interceptions) for all MGCCC’s passing yardage.
            Austin Watts led all River receivers with 68 yards on his TD catch and run, while Cook had two catches for 47 and Aaron Wright out of Tara High in Baton Rouge, La., had 45 yards on five receptions.
            For Gulf Coast, Morrow led the receiving corps with three catches for 56 yards, while Dhaquille Williams had two for 43.
            Antwon Wells was the Bulldogs leading rusher with 49 yards on 19 carries, while Williams had 47 on eight, Marlon Pope 33 on six, and Morrow 32 on four.
            King punted five times for a 42.2-yard average, while Kevin Phillips had four boots for a 38.75 clip.
            Pearl River was penalized eight time for 47 yards, while Gulf Coast drew eight flags for 80.
            Three other games were played on Thursday. In the MACJC North Division, second-ranked East Mississippi (6-0, 3-0) bombing Holmes (1-5, 1-3) 55-0 in Goodman, while in the South, third-ranked Jones County (6-0, 4-0) smacked winless East Central (0-6, 0-4) 47-0 in Decatur. Ninth-ranked Copiah-Lincoln (5-2) drilled fourth-ranked Itawamba (5-1) 48-7 in Wesson for the week’s only intra-divisional match up.
            Three Homecoming match ups are set for Saturday. In the North, Northwest Mississippi (1-4, 0-2) hosts winless Mississippi Delta (0-5, 0-3) in Senatobia and Northeast Mississippi (2-3, 2-0) hosts winless Coahoma (0-5, 0-2) in Booneville, while in the South, Southwest Mississippi (2-3, 1-1) hosts Hinds (3-2, 1-2) in Summit.

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