River-Southwest rivalry set for 72nd time on Thursday

POPLARVILLE --- Pearl River and Southwest Mississippi enter their 72nd football match up set for this Thursday here in Dobie Holden Stadium under extremely similar circumstances.
    Besides having new head coaches --- PRCC’s William Jones and SMCC’s Tucker Peavey --- both squads sport identical overall records at 2-2 and both enter the critical division match up off victories last week.
    Last Thursday, PRCC dropped winless Coahoma 21-7 in an MACJC non-division tilt in Clarksdale a week after falling to now-12th-ranked Jones County 34-16 in its South Division opener, while SMCC smacked winless East Central 24-7 in Summit in its South Division opener last week.
            Jones says the visiting Bears will be a very formidable foe for his Wildcats.
            “We’re going up against a well-coached football team that has been injected with new coaching blood this year and seems to be playing with a lot of confidence,” he said. “We’ll have our hands full.”
            Jones, who served as The River’s defensive coordinator for seven years under former head coaches Scott Maxfield (2001) and Tim Hatten (2002-2012) before departing for East Mississippi in Scooba in 2008, actually worked for Peavey when the Brookhaven native was hired as Maxfield’s replacement in early 2002.
            Peavey headed the Wildcat program through spring training that year, but never coached a game as he soon accepted the head coach and athletic director position at his alma mater Brookhaven High School. He served as BHS’s head coach for nine seasons (2001-2010) and wound up as the school’s all-time winningest coach with a 74-32 win-loss record, guiding the Panther squad to an MHSAA Class 4A state championship in 2004. He stepped down as head coach after the 2010 season, but remained as AD through 2011 before heading to the University of Southern Mississippi as an assistant in 2012.
            Long-time Bear head coach Charles Anthony resigned after the 2012 season and Peavey was chosen as his successor.
            “Tucker Peavey is an excellent football coach will all kinds of experience,” Jones added. “He’ll definitely have the Bears ready to play the Wildcats.”
            The Bears opened 2013 with a 19-15 win over Northwest Mississippi in Senatobia before losing their home opener to then-12th-ranked Itawamba 40-6. Fifth-ranked East Mississippi hosted SMCC in week three and bombarded the Bears 69-0 before they rebounded with their victory over East Central.
            Jones’ Wildcat squad fell to East Miss 49-6 in their season opener, but rebounded back with a 30-14 in over winless Mississippi Delta --- both at home. The Jones County loss followed.
            A year ago, Pearl River picked up a hard-fought 32-27 win over the Bears in Summit.
            The Wildcats and Bears are ranked ninth and 11th, respectively, in total offense in the MACJC with PRCC averaging 285.3 yards per game (11th-best 129 pass, eighth-best 133.8 rush) to SMCC’s 257 (13th-best 69.3 pass, fifth-best 187.3 rush).
            Southwest’s running back Chris Jones is sixth in the league in rushing with a 74.5-yard per-game average (54 carries), while Pearl River’s Darrell Robinson is ninth at 73.3 (65 carries). Last week against Coahoma, Robinson, a freshman out of Noxubee County High, recorded his second straight 100-yard game with 103 yards on 25 carries. The previous week against JCJC, he rushed for 111 on 23 carries.
            Defensively, the Wildcats are perched at fifth, giving up an average of 322 yards a game (fourth-best 123 rush, ninth-best 211 pass); while the Bears are 11th at 434 (11th-best 186 rush, 13th-best 248 pass).
 
THE PEARL RIVER-SOUTHWEST RIVALRY
The PRCC-SMCC rivalry dates back to 1932 when the Wildcats took a 20-7 victory. Pearl River holds a 56-13 (three ties) win-loss advantage over Southwest in the history over the series.
After the inaugural game, the two teams didn't resume the series until 1937 when PRCC won 27-20. Even though the Bears battled the Wildcats to 0-0, 6-6, and 7-7 deadlocks in 1939, 1950, and 1955, respectively, it wasn't until 1958 that Southwest won 26-6 to take its first victory over PRCC.
In 2000, Pearl River clipped the nationally-ranked Bears with a 20-17 upset victory just five days after then-head coach Keith Daniels died of a brain hemorrhage. Most River partisans experts were stumped as to how the Wildcats would handle the tragic situation, but what resulted was an emotional win when current PRCC head soccer coach Jack Byrd, a Picayune High recruit who went on to star at Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) University, booted a 30-yard field goal with 16 seconds left. The Bears had won three straight over the Wildcats prior that year's victory.
Southwest finished its 2000 campaign at 9-3 overall under former head coach Ken Edenfield after losing to Hinds 27-17 in the state championship game. The Bears' 4-2 division mark that season propelled them into the postseason playoffs and a 46-14 first-round victory over Itawamba. In 2001, Green, Edenfield's offensive line coach, took over the head coaching duties before relinquishing the job to Anthony in 2006.
PRCC defeated Southwest 36-9 in Poplarville in 2002, then the Wildcats took a 14-6 road victory in 2003, a 38-0 shutout in 2004's national championship season, a 40-7 blowout in 2005, and a 31-0 shutout in 2006's Homecoming game.
In 2007, Bear DB Myrio Cotton returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown with less than five minutes left to give Southwest a 24-17 division victory in Summit. In addition, SMCC's Roteddrick Cotton returned the game's opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown.
In 2008, Pearl River won a 50-20 blowout in Summit and took a lopsided 43-7 victory in 2009's Homecoming game in Poplarville before picking up a 35-21 road win in 2010 and a 27-20 victory at home in 2011.
 
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE MACJC
            In other week four action around the MACJC, 14th-ranked Jones County toppled top-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast 52-42 in Perkinston, sixth-ranked Copiah-Lincoln defeated 11th-ranked Hinds 19-10 in Wesson, Southwest Mississippi defeated East Central 24-7 in Summit, fifth-ranked East Mississippi bombed Mississippi Delta 70-0 in Moorhead, Northeast Mississippi was a 34-21 winner over Northwest Mississippi in Senatobia, and 13th-ranked Itawamba trimmed Holmes 13-10 in Goodman.
 
THIS WEEK IN THE MACJC
            Next week in the MACJC sees four Thursday games and three on Saturday. South Division Thursday games include Southwest Mississippi (2-2, 1-0) at Pearl River (2-2, 0-1) in Poplarville and winless East Central (0-4, 0-2) at Hinds (2-2, 0-2) in Raymond, while in the North, winless Holmes (0-4, 0-2) visits winless Mississippi Delta (0-4, 0-2) in Moorhead. Northeast Mississippi (2-2, 2-0) visits Mississippi Gulf Coast (3-1, 1-1) on Thursday for the only intra-divisional match up of the week. On Saturday in the South, undefeated Copiah-Lincoln (4-0, 2-0) visits undefeated Jones County (4-0, 2-0) in Ellisville; while in the North, winless Coahoma (0-4, 0-1) visits undefeated East Mississippi (4-0, 1-0) in Scooba for the Lions’ homecoming and Northwest Mississippi (1-3, 1-1) visits undefeated Itawamba (4-0, 2-0) in Fulton for the Indians’ homecoming.
 
WATCH AND LISTEN TO THE WILDCATS
            All Pearl River games are broadcast live on WFMM-FM (97.3) in Hattiesburg, WFFF-FM (96.7) in Columbia, and WRJW-AM (1320) in Picayune. Play-by-play announcer Jason Baker, amidst his 14th season with the Wildcats, 12-year color commentator Clay Sweet, and sideline reporter Jeff Lossett will handle the broadcast. Air time for Thursday’s broadcast is 6:30 p.m. You may also watch (via live stream) and listen to the Wildcats over the internet by logging on to www.prcc.edu. Click on the icon at the bottom left of the screen, and follow the instructions.
 

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