River smacks Southwest 38-14

            POPLARVILLE --- Pearl River Community College boasts a winning football record for the first time this season after smacking MACJC South Division rival Southwest Mississippi 38-14 here Thursday in Dobie Holden Stadium.
            The Wildcats amassed a season-high 389 yards of total offense (236 rush, 153 pass) behind a season-high 148 rushing yards by running back Darrell Robinson. The freshman out of Noxubee County High, who now has three straight 100-yard games, also accounted for four of the Wildcats’ five touchdowns in the 24-point win.
            The River improved to 3-2 overall, while Southwest dropped to 2-3. Both squads are now 1-1 in division play.
            In addition, PRCC won the turnover battle for the first time in 2013, recovering two rumbles and interception two passes; while losing a fumble late in the first half.
            The Wildcat defense shined, holding the Bears to a meager 139 yards of total offense (37 rush, 102 pass).
            “We put together our best effort of the year on both sides of the ball, but winning the turnover battle was huge for us,” said first-year Wildcat head coach William Jones. “Turnovers have been our Achilles heel all year long.
            “We’re just glad to the win.”
            Pearl River jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after scoring on its first two possession of the contest.
            Wide receiver-kick returner Chad Cook of Long Beach High returned the game’s opening kickoff 30 yards to his own 36 and it took the Wildcats only eight plays for quarterback Shaun White out of Catholic High in Pensacola, Fla., to hit Robinson for a 10-yard catch-and-run TD. Mark Moore of Hattiesburg High kicked the PAT to make it 7-0 with 9:26 left in the first.
            The Bears answered with a three and out and Taylor Smith punted 33 yards out of his own end zone to the Southwest 45.
            White kept for nine on first down before hitting Shaun White of North Forrest High with a 26-yard completion three snaps later to move things to the four. Two plays later, Robinson scored. Moore’s PAT made it 14-0 with 4:50 left in the first period.
            Six series later, the Bears finally got on the scoreboard with a seven-play, 69-yard scoring drive. Quarterback De’Angelo Ballard, Robinson’s high school teammate, went three for five on the possession for a combined 56 yards before keeping for a nine-yard touchdown with 3:19 left in the half. Michal McDaniel kicked the extra point to cut the Wildcats’ lead to seven.
            Pearl River fumbled the ball away on the second snap of its ensuing possession and Southwest took over at the Wildcat 32, but linebacker Emmanuel Ray of Lumberton High followed suit by picking off Ballard three plays later at the 27.
            In the final minute of the first half, White hit Akeem Pollard of Petal High with a 48-yard completion to the Southwest 35, but three incomplete throws later, the half ended.
            The Bears turned it over on their first two possessions of the second half --- the first an interception by Charles Ducksworth of Mize High, the second a fumble recovery by Martez Simpson of Madision Central High.
            Simpson’s effort gave the Wildcats possession at the Southwest five and White zipped a pass to a wide-open Shaun Jones in the end zone on the first play. Moore’s PAT made it 21-7 with 11:32 left in the third.
            The Bears answered with a three and out and it took Pearl River only 14 plays to pad its lead. Robinson got the call seven times during the series for a combined 21 yards --- the last carry for a three-yard TD. Moore’s extra point made it 28-7 with 2:28 left in the quarter.
            Southwest scored its final points on its ensuing possession, marching 64 yards in six plays with Ballard keeping for a 19-yard TD run on the first snap of the fourth period. McDaniel’s PAT boot made it 28-14 with 14:49 left in the contest.
            Ducksworth then returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to the SMCC 47 and Robinson sped the distance on first down for another Wildcats scoring. Moore’s extra point made it 35-14 with 14:27 left.
            After Ballard threw incomplete on a fourth and sixth at the Wildcat 42 seven plays into the Bears next possession, The River drove to the Southwest one in 10 plays --- complimented by a Southwest 15-yard penalty --- where Brandon King of Florence High booted a 17-yard field goal to make it 38-14 with 4:47 left.
            SMCC fumbled the ensuing kickoff and PRCC recovered at the 21. The game ended six plays later with White taking a knee at the nine.
            Pearl River finished the game with 22 first downs to Southwest’s seven and was penalized seven times for 53 yards to the Bears’ seven for 58.
            King punted four times for a 32.75-yard average, while Smith had four boots for a 33.5-yard average.
            Besides Robinson, White rushed for a season-high 43 yards on nine carries; while Detrick Goff, a Mississippi Gulf Coast CC transfer who prepped at Hancock County High, had 31 yards on eight attempts.
            Pollard led PRCC with two catches for 60 yards, while Shaun Jones had three for 43. Kelvin Williams was SMCC’s leading receiver with four catches for 41 yards.
            White completed 11 of 19 passes (57.9 percent) with no interceptions for all the Wildcats’ aerial yardage, while Ballard was eight of 21 (38.1 percent) with two picks for all the Bears’ passing yardage.
            Three other games were played on Thursday with 20th-ranked Hinds defeating winless East Central 48-14 in Raymond in a South Division contest, while in the North, Holmes demolished winless Mississippi Delta 58-6 in Moorhead for its first victory of 2013. Tenth-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast was a 28-14 winner over Northeast Mississippi in Booneville in the MACJC’s only intra-divisional match up of the week.
            Three games are on tap for Saturday, including fourth-ranked and reigning MACJC champion Copiah-Lincoln visiting ninth-ranked Jones County in a South Division battle of the unbeatens in Ellisville. In the North, winless Coahoma visits third-ranked East Mississippi in Scooba for the Lions’ homecoming and Northwest Mississippi visits seventh-ranked Itawamba in Fulton for the Indians’ homecoming.

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