Wildcats wrap 2013 season with TO-plagued 38-14 loss

             RAYMOND --- Pearl River Community College committed six turnovers --- five in the first quarter --- versus 16th-ranked Hinds here Thursday in Joe Renfroe Stadium and the host Eagles walked away with a convincing 38-14 MACJC South Division victory to end the Wildcats’ season.
            Surprisingly, PRCC dominated statistically with 21 first downs to HCC’s 12 and amassed 391 yards of total offense (185 rush, 206 pass) to the Eagles’ 223 (113 rush, 110 pass).
            The River, which wrapped its season at 4-5 overall and 2-4 in division play, snatched the first turnover when Quartavious Smith of McComb High picked off James Summers’ pass on the third offensive snap of the night, but Eagle linebacker Herbert Harris answered on the Wildcats’ first play with an interception at the PRCC 47 and returned it 45 yards to the two.
            A play later, Darryan Ragsdale ran it in for the score and Joseph Houston’s extra point made it 7-0 just 57 seconds into the contest.
            The Wildcats answered quickly. Speedster Charles Ducksworth of Mize High returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards to the Hinds 33 and it took only five plays for Pearl River to cash in. In three snaps, quarterback Shaun White out of Catholic High in Pensacola, Fla., had moved things to the 23 before he kept for 22 to the one. A five-yard motion penalty moved things back to the six, but Darrell Robinson of Noxubee County High followed with a six-yard TD on his second carry of the night. Brandon King of Florence High kicked the PAT to knot things up at 7-7 with 12:12 left in the opening quarter.
            It appeared Hinds was going three and out on its next possession, but Pate DeMuth’s punt was fumbled by Chad Cook of Long Beach High and the Eagles recovered at the Wildcat 20. Four plays later, Houston booted a 30-yard field goal made it 10-7 to put Hinds up for good with 9:25 left in the first.
            After Ducksworth returned the ensuing kickoff 21 yards to his own 42, defensive lineman Michael Ross intercepted White on the first snap at the line of scrimmage and Summers hit De’Andrea Harris two plays later with a 39-yard catch and run for the score. Houston’s extra point made it 17-7 with 8:31 left in the opening quarter.
            The turnover virus continued to infect the Wildcats. Houston’s pooch kickoff was fumbled by Wildcat Tanner Bryan at his own 27 and the Eagles recovered. Three snaps later, Tommy McCalpin converted a third and three with a 10-yard scoot, while two plays later Summers hit Keithon Redding with an 11-yard touchdown strike. Houston’s extra point made it 24-7 with 6:35 left in the first.
            After Hinds’ kickoff sailed out of bounds, PRCC cranked up at its own 35. Robinson ran for 13 on the first play, but the series was stymied and King’s incomplete pass on a faked punt attempt at his own 47 saw the Eagles take over.
            Summers’ 40-yard completion to Robert Lockhart on first down quickly moved things inside the 10. After D.J. Warren plunged for two, Summers kept for a five-yard score. Houston’s PAT made it 31-7 with 2:30 left in the first.
            After Cook returned the ensuing kickoff 17 yards to his own 22, Robinson had three straight carries for a combine 30 yards to the Hinds 48 before Young hit Ducksworth with a 27-yard completion to the 19. Scottie Merrill’s two-yard run ended the first period, then the sophomore out of Picayune High burst for 10 to the seven on the first snap of the second quarter.
            Merrill was then held to zero on back-to-back carries before White threw incomplete on a third and seven and King arrived for a 25-yard field goal attempt only to see his effort blocked.
            After Hinds went three and out, Pearl River cranked up at its won 30 where White kept on first down for nine before back-to-back 16-yard carries by Merrill moved things to the Eagle 29.  Robinson was then dropped for a minus-nine, but White found Akeem Pollard of Petal High with a 20-yard completion to the Eagle 18. After Merrill’s three-yard carry, White fumbled and Hinds recovered at the 15.
            Another Hinds three and out followed and the Wildcats had possession at its own 32. Five straight running plays moved things to midfield where White connected with Ducksworth for a 22-yard completion to the Eagle 31. White then converted a second and eight with an eight-yard completion to Merrill before connecting with Aaron Wright out of Tara High in Baton Rouge, La., for four. Consecutive incompletions saw the arrival of King for a 30-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide.
            A play later, the half ended.
            Pearl River opened the second half with a 12-play, 66-yard drive to the Hinds six, but Robinson was nailed for a meager three yards on a fourth and four and the Eagles took over. White had completions of 18 and 28 yards to Ducksworth and Merrill, respectively, during the possession, while Robinson had 18 rushing yards on four carries.
            After an exchange of punts, Hinds put together its final scoring drive of the night. Starting at its own 33, Summers connected with Harris for an 11-yard completion, then kept for four and passed to Diantae Thomas for two. A Wildcat personal foul on the Thomas completion pushed things to the PRCC 35. Four plays later, Summers’ 11-yard keeper to the 10 ended the third period. Summers’ passed to Lockhart three snaps later for the score. Houston’s PAT made it 38-7 with 14:01 left.
            The Wildcats answered with a six-play, 33-yard drive to the Eagle 37 where White threw incomplete on a fourth and 15. White’s 27-yard pass play to Pollard highlighted the series, while a 15-yard flag on Hinds converted a third and 12.
            On Pearl River’s next possession, the Wildcats drove 42 yards in 11 plays only to see White throw his third interception --- a pick off by Kenya Dennis at the PRCC 20.
            But Thomas fumbled on the Eagles’ first play and defensive lineman Carl Green of McComb High recovered for the Wildcats. Three plays later, PRCC was sitting at the 18 facing a fourth and eight where White found Austin Watts of Sumrall High in the end zone for the game’s final touchdown. King’s extra point made it 38-14 with 4:18 left.
            Six plays later, the game ended.
            Merrill led all rushers in the game with 79 yards on 16 carries, while Robinson had 66 on 18 and Ragsdale had 60 on 16 for Hinds.
            Ducksworth finished the night with five catches for 88 yards --- both game-high totals --- while Pollard had two for 37 and Merrill three for 38. The Eagles top receivers were Lockhart with two for 44 and Harris with one for 39.
            White completed 14 of 28 throws (three interceptions) for all the Wildcats’ aerial yardage, while Summers followed suit with a seven of 16 (one interception) effort.
            PRCC was penalized seven times for 52 yards, while HCC drew five flags for 35.
            Hinds wrapped its regular season at 6-2 overall and 4-2 in division play.
            In other MACJC regular-season-ending action Thursday in the North, second-ranked and North champ East Mississippi (9-0, 6-0) demolished North runner up Itawamba (6-3, 4-2) 59-13 in Scooba, Holmes (3-6, 3-3) smashed Coahoma (1-8, 1-5) 48-21 in Clarksdale, and Northwest Mississippi (4-5, 4-2) crushed Mississippi Delta (2-7, 2-4) in Booneville. In the South, fifth-ranked and division runner up Mississippi Gulf Coast (8-1, 5-1) smacked East Central (1-8, 0-6) 49-7 in Decatur, and ninth-ranked and defending state champ Copiah-Lincoln (7-2, 4-2) defeated Southwest Mississippi (2-7, 1-5) 42-14.
            Fourth-ranked and South champion Jones County (7-1, 5-1) hosts Northwest Mississippi (1-7, 1-5) Saturday for its homecoming in Ellisville in an intra-divisional contest.
            The MACJC post-season playoffs kick off Saturday, Nov. 2, with North No. 1 East Mississippi hosting South No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast in Scooba and South No. 1 Jones County hosting North No. 2 Itawamba in Ellisville. The winners of those meetings will face off Saturday, Nov. 9, for the state championship. The 2013 MACJC title bout will be hosted in the North Division unless both North playoff teams lose in the opening round. The MACJC champion earns hosting rights to the sixth-annual Mississippi Bowl set for Sunday, Dec. 8, at Biloxi High School in Biloxi.

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