''Cat Fight hits gridiron for 80th time Saturday

POPLARVILLE One of the most storied rivalries in all of community college football hits the gridiron for the 80th time Saturday in Ellisville when Jones County hosts Pearl River in a huge MACJC South Division football battle for the visiting Wildcats. PRCC, 5-3 overall and 4-1 in South Division play, enters the 2 p.m. contest off last week 37-19 Homecoming victory over Hinds and still holds a slim chance at making the MACJC post-season playoffs. The Wildcats face a must win scenario against the Bobcats and will need a bit of help, says ninth-year Pearl River head coach Tim Hatten. Weve got to win (over Jones) and Hinds has to beat (Mississippi) Gulf Coast…it that simple, Hatten said. If we win and Gulf Coast wins, there will be a three-way tie for first place in the South and well be left out due to the tie-breaker thing. The Wildcats only division loss was to division-leading Copiah-Lincoln 21-14 Oct. 9, just one week after Pearl River handed Gulf Coast its sole division loss with a 30-27 overtime win in Poplarville. CLCC, 7-1 and 5-1, was crushed by MGCCC 23-3 Oct. 16 in Perkinston for its only loss of the season. But we cant worry about things we cant control, Hatten continued. Weve got to take care of our own business first. If we dont beat Jones, were totally out of the picture. That first and foremost on our agenda…take care of business and hope the cards fall our way. JCJC opened the season with a No. 19 ranking in the NJCAA preseason poll and quickly moved up to 11th with its season-opening 34-3 road victory over Mississippi Delta. After falling to Coahoma 26-24 the second week, the Bobcats fell out of the balloting and have seemingly been on a downward spiral ever since. Gulf Coast pulled off a 31-24 win in week three before Co-Lin followed with a 20-14 victory. JCJC rebounded with a 24-6 non-division win over still-winless Holmes on Sept. 30 before suffering three straight South Division defeats to Hinds 27-23, East Central 24-14, and Southwest Mississippi 14-13. Jones has had a tough run of luck, Hatten said. They lost to Hinds and Southwest by a combined total of five points. East Central beat them by 10, Co-Lin by six, and Gulf Coast by seven and they had to rally in the second half after trailing at halftime. The Bobcats are a solid team with lots of talented guys. They just havent been able to make the plays when need to. Saturday Cat Fight will pit Pearl River top-rated passing offense against Jones County top-rated pass defense. The Wildcats are averaging 310.8 yards a game through the air, while the Bobcats give up an average of 141.8 aerial yards. PRCC rock-bottom 64.6 rushing yards a game plummets the Wildcats total offensive mark 375 yards a game to sixth in the league, while the Bobcats rank 10th in total offense with 306.1 yards a game (12th-best 118.4 rush, eighth-best 187.8 pass). JCJC rushing defense ranks 10th (152.3 yards a game), while Pearl River ranks sixth (147.6) and its passing defense 13th (214). The Wildcats are next-to-last in total defense, giving up an average of 361.6 yards a game, but lead the league in turnover margin with a plus-nine. The Bobcats are even in TO margin and rank No. 11.The Cat Fight Rivalry… Pearl River leads its series with JCJC with 40 wins versus 37 losses (two ties) heading into this year match up. Last year, the Wildcats won the statistical battle in lopsided fashion 320 total offensive yards to the Bobcats 205 but JCJC prevailed in lieu of a whopping five PRCC turnovers. The River had two interceptions inside Jones 10 and another pick and a lost fumble around the opponent 20. In 2008, the then-10th-ranked Wildcats seemed destined for defeat when Emil Jones muffed a shotgun snap and Bobcat linebacker Demorio Leverette picked up the miscue and sped untouched to the end zone for a go-ahead score with 2:37 remaining in the game. JCJC quarterback Early James then passed to Anthony Jackson for the two-point conversion to give the then-third-ranked Bobcats a 22-19 edge. But The River answered with a five-play, 75-yard scoring drive for the win, capped by a four-yard shovel pass from Jones to now-Delta State Statesman Ray Chisholm with 1:02 left to give Jones its first loss of the year. In 2007, the then-fifth-ranked Bobcats put together a fourth-quarter rally to spoil the Wildcats Homecoming with a 33-28 setback, while in 2006, PRCC trailed the home-standing Bobcats 24-13 with under five minutes left, but rallied back with 15 unanswered points to hand their previously-undefeated hosts a heartbreaking 28-24 defeat. Wide receiver Demetrius Byrd snagged a 21-yard touchdown pass from Carlton Hill with 56 seconds left to ice the hard-fought victory. Hill entered the game under center to kick off the second half after playing wide receiver in PRCC previous six-and-a-half outings. Hill put on a stunning fourth-quarter show that wowed the capacity crowd witnessing the slugfest played on Sim Cooley Field. The Bobcats seemingly never recovered from the shocking defeat as they managed to score a meager six points in their last two games and closed out the remainder of their season with back-to-back losses to Mississippi Gulf Coast (24-3) and Copiah-Lincoln (16-3). In 2005, the Wildcats took a hard-fought 28-18 victory in Ellisville a year after their lopsided 52-10 Homecoming romp in Poplarville in PRCC state and national championship season. PRCC won 35-21 in 2003. The rivalry cranked up back in 1934 with Jones winning the inaugural meeting 33-0 and from 1937 until 1944, Jones won six straight, including a unique 3-2 victory in 1938. Legendary PRCC coach Dobie Holden compiled a 13-7-1 record against Jones in his 21 years at the Wildcat helm, including a 12-12 deadlock in 1946 in his first game at The River. Holden successor, John Russell, was 5-2 against the Bobcats in seven years, while his successor, J.C. Arban, was 3-7-1. Mike Nelson followed Arban and was 2-2 in the late 1980s, while Willie Coats was 3-2 and Keith Daniels 2-4 in the 1990s. Hatten boasts a 6-1 record against the Bobcats. In 2000, the Bobcats were 37-21 victors in Daniels last game as Wildcat coach. Daniels died the following day of a brain hemorrhage. The preceding season, Daniels led Pearl River to one of the most stunning upsets in history when the Wildcats trimmed then-defending state and national champion Jones 20-15 in Ellisville. Scott Maxfield, Daniels successor who left after the 2001 season to take the head job at Blinn College in Brenham, Tex., lost 24-14 in his only game against the Bobcats. Hatten, Maxfield successor, has yet to lose to Dykes, winning 44-17 in 2002, 35-21 in 2003, and last year blowout. There have been two ties in the history of the rivalry. Pearl River has won an unprecedented 19 state championships, including state and national titles in 1961 and 2004. Jones has won 12 state titles..Other Action In The MACJC Last Week In the North Division on Thursday, East Mississippi defeated Mississippi Delta 42-27 in Moorhead, undefeated Northwest Mississippi bombed winless Holmes 38-13 in Goodman, and Itawamba trimmed Northeast Mississippi 20-17 in Fulton. In the South, Co-Lin rallied late to drop East Central 42-35 in Wesson, while Coahoma nipped Mississippi Gulf Coast 34-31 in Clarksdale in the week only intra-divisional match up. In other Saturday action, Southwest Mississippi squeaked past Jones County 14-13 in Summit.Other Regular-Season Finales This WeekThis week wraps the 2010 regular season with four Thursday and three Saturday match ups. East Central (2-6, 2-3) hosts Southwest Mississippi (3-5, 1-4) in Decatur in the South Division only Thursday contest, while in the North, defending state champ East Mississippi (4-4, 3-2) hosts Holmes (0-8, 0-5) in Scooba and undefeated Northwest Mississippi (8-0, 5-0) hosts Itawamba (5-3, 4-1) in Senatobia. Co-Lin (7-1, 5-1) hosts Northeast Mississippi (5-3, 4-2) in the week only intra-divisional game. On Saturday in the South, Hinds (5-3, 2-3) hosts Mississippi Gulf Coast (6-2, 4-1) in Raymond and Jones County (2-6, 0-5) hosts Pearl River in Ellisville, while in the North, Coahoma (3-5, 1-4) hosts Mississippi Delta (1-7, 1-4) in Clarksdale.Wildcats Over The Airwaves All Pearl River games are broadcast live on WFMM-FM (97.3) in Hattiesburg, WFFF-FM (96.7) in Columbia, WBOX-FM (92.9) and WBOX-AM (920) in Bogalusa, La.; 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 Cat Fight broadcast is 6 p.m. You may also listen to the Wildcats over the internet by logging on to

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