Jones wins ”Cat Fight” 35-7

POPLARVILLE A season of great expectations ended in disheartening dismay for Pearl River Community College here Thursday in Dobie Holden Stadium, as arch-rival Jones County took a convincing 35-7 victory in the 81st-annual Cat Fight and handed the host Wildcats their first losing season since 2000. PRCC, which entered its 2011 campaign with a No. 8 preseason national ranking by the NJCAA, wrapped its season at 4-5 overall and 3-3 in MACJC South Division play; while JCJC finished 6-3 and 3-3. The Bobcats amassed 361 yards of total offense (242 pass, 119 rush) to the Wildcats season-low 261 (152 pass, 109 rush) The River lowest offensive output since its 256-yard effort against East Central in a 30-27 overtime victory in 2009. In addition, the loss resulted in the first losing season in 10th-year PRCC head coach Tim Hatten 24-year coaching career, including 17 as a head coach. What can you say. The better team won tonight, that for sure, Hatten said. For whatever reason, we just werent a very good team this year. It really an embarrassing situation when you consider all the tradition here. It hurts. But give them (Jones) credit. They played with much more spirit than we did and apparently it more than we did. We failed in every aspect of the game, he continued. Even though were very talented in some areas, I guess were not very good when we dont have anything to play for. The Wildcats were eliminated from all post-season playoff contention after last week 59-32 South Division disaster against playoff-bound Hinds in Raymond. And that beat down was on the coattail of Oct. 15”s 41-17 Homecoming loss to now-North Division champ and undefeated East Mississippi, which currently stands at No. 3 in the NJCAA national poll. The Bobcats struck early. After the opening kickoff sailed out of bounds, JCJC cranked up at its own 40 and it took only seven plays to light up the scoreboard. Quarterback Ben Stevens converted a third and 10 with a 23-yard completion to Quartez Cooks to the Wildcat 37, then Lavoris Powell, who finished the night with 148 yards on 28 carries, including a 19 for 121-yard effort in the first half, went to work with four straight rushes the last a 15-yarder for the go-ahead score. Logan Brewer extra point made it 7-0 with 11:41 left in the first quarter. It appeared Pearl River would answer, but its ensuing eight-play, 64-yard drive to the Jones eight was thwarted when All-American quarterback Melvin German out of Dunbar High in Fort Myers, Fla., threw his first of three interceptions on the night and Mitchell Brown returned the pick to the 18. JCJC managed to move to its 42, but Slater Smith punted away. With the Wildcats starting at their own 27, German was picked off again on the second snap this time by Deneco Hathorn but the Bobcats went three and out and Smith 33-yard unreturned boot pinned the Wildcats at their own 13. Four plays later, Rickey Bradley of Oak Grove High punted 30 yards to his own 44 and Powell ended the first quarter with a five-yard run. On the second snap of the second period, Stevens connected with Cooks on a 25-yard completion to the 15 with Powell running it in on the next play. Brewer PAT made it 14-0 with 13:43 left in the half. Leonard Johnson of North Forrest High returned the ensuing kickoff 26 yards to his own 41, but it took only two snaps for disaster to strike once again. German converted a second and 11 with a 13-yard pass to Jaquaa Peters, but the sophomore from Columbia High fumbled his catch and run and JCJC recovered at its own 47. The Bobcats managed to drive to the Wildcat 34 in six plays, but Powell came up two yards shot on a fourth and three. Pearl River answered by driving 51 yards in six plays to the Jones 14, but German threw incomplete on third and fourth downs and the Bobcats took over. Freshman corner Leon Carlton of Hoover, Ala., picked off Stevens at the Jones 32 two plays later and his effort set up the Wildcats only score of the game. Five snaps later, PRCC was looking at a first a goal at the nine and German kept three straight plays, plowing over from the one with 2:49 left before the intermission. Pacer Frierson booted the extra point to make it 14-7. Cooks returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to his own 44 and in eight plays the Bobcats were sitting at the Pearl River 18. Stevens converted a second and 12 with a 26-yard completion to tight end Keghan Livingston to the PRCC 32, then three straight running plays and a five-yard offside penalty on The River moved things to the 19 before Powell was dropped for a minus-one and Stevens threw incomplete. Brewer then arrived for a 40-yard field goal attempt, but his effort was blocked. Four plays later, Bradley 49-yard punt ended the half. The second half opened with back-to-back three and outs, then the Wildcats drove 52 yards in eight snaps to the Bobcat 15 only to fumble it away. Larry Thompson of Bassfield High did most of the damage in the series with 38 yards on four carries, but his final 11-yard burst was stripped and JCJC recovered. Stevens answered with a four-for-six passing effort, but his last throw was picked off by Marino Daggon of Bassfield High at the Jones 42. Six plays later, Bradley punted 37 yards to a Bobcat signaling fair catch at the 16, but a Wildcat smashed into the return man for a 15-yard penalty to put Jones in business at its own 32. Eight plays later, Powell scored from five yards out and Brewer extra point made it 21-7 with 13:12 left in the final period. German was intercepted for the final time on the first snap of PRCC ensuing possession and Antonio Parker returned his pick 38 yards to the end zone. Brewer PAT made it 28-7 with 12:50 remaining. Four possessions later, Jones iced the cake with a six-play, 44-yard scoring drive with Stevens hitting Deuce Cook in the end zone with 4:10 remaining. Brewer extra point ended the scoring. Pearl River finished the game with 14 first downs to Jones County 19, while German was 21 of 40 (three interceptions) for all the Wildcats passing yardage. Jonathan Duncan of Oak Grove High also threw an incompletion, while Stevens was 19 of 29 (two interceptions) for 216 yards. Javonte Wilson of Picayune Memorial High led PRCC receivers with six catches for 36 yards, while Steve McNair, Jr., of Oak Grove High had three for 31, Bradley three for 29, Seth Roberts out of McKay Academy in Tallahassee, Fla., three for 21, Duncan two for 13, Peters three for 12, Thompson one for nine, and Cheeto Johnson of Forrest County AHS one for one. Cook led Bobcat receivers with four receptions for 75 yards, while Cooks had four for 54, Livingston two for 31, Malik Lofton four for 26, Ducksworth one for 26, Eric Godette three for 17, and Powell two for three. Thompson finished the game with a career-high 98 yards on 10 carries. Pearl River was penalized five times for 50 yards, while Jones drew four flags for 20.Elsewhere In The MACJC In other North Division Thursday action, third-ranked and North champ East Mississippi (9-0, 6-0) posted the school first-ever undefeated season with a 42-28 romp over Holmes (2-7, 2-4) in Goodman, Northwest Mississippi (6-3, 4-2) bombarded Itawamba (4-5, 4-2) 45-7 in Fulton, and Coahoma (1-8, 1-5) smacked winless Mississippi Delta (0-8, 0-6) 26-0 in Moorhead. In the South Division, East Central (2-7, 1-5) defeated Southwest Mississippi (3-6, 1-5) 41-28 in Summit. Copiah-Lincoln (5-4, 2-4) upset 18th-ranked and playoff-bound Northeast Mississippi (6-3, 4-2) 21-12 in Wesson in the only intra-divisional game of the week. Seventh-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast (7-1, 5-0) hosts 10th-ranked Hinds (7-1, 5-0) Saturday in Perkinston with the winner winning the South Division championship and hosting rights to the opening round of the playoffs. Saturday, Nov. 5, East Mississippi will host the loser of the MGCCC-HCC battle; while North runner-up Northeast will visit the winner of Saturday South Division title bout..

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