River eyes rebound against Itawamba

September 7, 2011 - 9:28am -- braswell

POPLARVILLE After falling in overtime to Northwest Mississippi in its 2011 season opener last week in Senatobia, Pearl River Wildcats are out to make a bold statement Thursday when the Itawamba Indians play host in a 7 p.m. MACJC non-division battle. This week contest marks the second time the Wildcats and Indians have squared off since PRCC state and national championship season in 2004 when The River blew out ICC twice 46-23 in its season opener and 40-12 in the first round of the state playoffs. The Wildcats took a hard-fought 34-14 victory a year ago in Poplarville. Last week, eighth-ranked PRCC fell 56-55 to the ninth-ranked Rangers, but River head coach Tim Hatten pin pointing numerous mistakes that cost his team a season-opening win. Our special teams killed us, Hatten said of his Wildcats giving up 21 points via special teams miscues. There not many teams in the country that can overcome that kind of thing, but, regardless, we still were in position to win the thing. NWCC Lance Ray, an Arkansas Razorback transfer, had an 82-year kickoff return for a score; while PRCC muffed a punt return inside its own five and gave the Rangers an easy one-yard TD run. In addition, a 12-yard shanked punt by The River gave Northwest ideal field position at the Wildcats 31 and the Rangers cashed in three plays later. That (special teams mistakes) has to be rectified, he continued. There no excuse for it. Despite the heartbreaking setback, Pearl River saw a record-setting night in Senatobia, finishing the game with 34 first downs the second-highest total in school history while generating 631 yards of total offense which is ranked fourth in the school gridiron archives. PRCC amassed 533 passing yards, while All-American quarterback Melvin German of Ft. Myers, Fla., accounted for 496 through the air. Both marks rank second in history and German was 42 of 64 (two interceptions) with his 42 completions ranking first and his 64 attempts second. North Forrest product Snoop Rollins 14 catches (game-best 133 yards) is also the most in school history. They (Northwest) was never able to stop us the entire game, but we greatly hurt ourselves with dropped passes and the like, Hatten continued. Think what kind of numbers Melvin wouldve had if it wasnt for all those drops. ICC opened its season last Thursday with a 44-24 MACJC non-division loss to Hinds in Raymond and saw the host Eagles generate a whopping 519 yards of total offense (377 rush, 142 pass). Itawamba opened on a down note, but theyve got a solid program and are always a well-coached team, Hatten said. Youve got to be ready when you go up against them...particularly at Fulton. The Indians managed 270 yards of offense (157 pass, 113 rush) against HCC. Last year, Pearl River played turnover-free against Itawamba in Poplarville after committing five in its opener against Northwest.The Pearl River-Itawamba Series Thursday match up marks the 39th time the two schools have met on the gridiron in a rivalry that dates back to 1953. Pearl River leads the series with 24 wins compared to 13 losses with one tie in the series. The Wildcats won the first match up with the Indians 20-0 and went on to eventually share the state championship with Hinds. In 1963 in one of PRCC 15 state championship seasons the two teams battled to a 12-12 deadlock, marking the only blemish on PRCC record that season. Itawamba has won three state titles (1975, 1977, 1990), while Pearl River has won an unprecedented 19 championships, including four straight in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. PRCC also won its second ever NJCAA national title in 2004, while playing for a third in 2006 only to fall to Blinn (Tex.) in the Pilgrim Pride Bowl in Mt. Pleasant, Tex.Last Week Around The MACJC In other Thursday night action (all non-division games), Nineteenth-ranked Copiah-Lincoln defeated Coahoma 24-14 in Clarksdale, Hinds pounced Itawamba 44-24 in Raymond, Southwest Mississippi was a 24-21 overtime winner over Holmes in Summit, Northeast Mississippi thumped East Central 40-27 in Booneville, Jones County shut out Mississippi Delta 33-0 in Ellisville, and 16th-ranked East Mississippi defeated second-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast 34-30 in Scooba.This Week In The MACJC This Thursday in the MACJC (all non-division games), Jones County hosts Coahoma in Ellisville, Holmes hosts Co-Lin in Goodman, East Central hosts Northeast Mississippi in Decatur, Hinds hosts East Mississippi in Raymond, Itawamba hosts Pearl River in Fulton, and Mississippi Delta hosts Mississippi Gulf Coast in Moorhead.The River Over The Airwaves 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. Long-time play-by-play announcer Jason Baker, color commentator Clay Sweet, and sideline reporter Jeff Lossett will handle the broadcast. Airtime for Thursday PRCC-ICC broadcast is 7 p.m. For fans at the game, tune your FM radio dial to 88.1 to listen to the broadcast. You may also watch and listen to the Wildcats over the internet by logging on to <a href="../">www.prcc.edu</a>. Click on the icon at the bottom left of the screen, and follow the instructions.