POPLARVILLE – One of the most-heralded rivalries in the history of junior college football hits the gridiron for the 85th time here Thursday when No. 1-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast visits Pearl River for a 7 p.m. MACJC South Division battle in Dobie Holden Stadium.The Wildcats, 3-1 overall and 2-0 in MACJC South Division play, enter the game off their third-straight win via a lopsided 44-13 home win over division foe East Central last week, while the undefeated Bulldogs, 3-1 and 2-0, bombed Southwest Mississippi 51-21 in Perkinston to improve to 4-0 and 2-0.”We''ve got our work cut out,” said ninth-year PRCC head coach Tim Hatten. “Gulf Coast, by far, is the best team we''ve faced thus far and it''s going to take a superb effort both offensively and defensively for us to come out on top.”Seventh-year Bulldog head coach Steve Campbell boasts the league''s second-best offensive attack, generating 433.7 yards a game (league-best 242.7 rushing, ninth-best 191 passing). Pearl River, on the other hand, is ranked seventh in total offense with a second-best 273.5 yard passing and a dead-last ranking in rushing at 70.5 per outing.Defensively, Gulf Coast is third in the league, giving up an average of 259 yards a game (fifth-best 117 rushing, second-best 142 passing); while Pearl River is seventh statewide at 306 yard a game (seventh-best 130.5 rushing, eighth-best 175.5 passing).The Wildcats are tied with Northeast Mississippi for tops league-wide in turnover margin with a plus-nine, while the Bulldogs are even and rank seventh.Gulf Coast wide receiver Javon Bell leads the league in scoring with seven touchdowns (10.5 points per game), while running back James Gillum and Wildcat quarterback Melvin German of Fort Myers, Fla., are in the thick of a six-way tie for second with five TDs (7.5 points per game) piece.German leads the league in passing yardage and completion percentage, averaging 261.3 yards a game through the air and has connected on 67.8 percent of this throws (103 of 152, one interception) through four games.Bulldog QB Clayton Moore passes for an average of 157.3 yards a game, while Gillum is the state''s third-best rusher with 414 yards (103.5 per game).Pearl River has four receivers in the state''s top 12, with Steve McNair, Jr., of Oak Grove High leading the way at No. 1 with 27 catches (281 yards, one TD). Snoop Rollins of North Forrest High is fifth (19 catches, 165 yards) Steve Simon of East Marion High seventh (18 catches, 140 yards), and Seth Roberts of Tallahassee, Fla., eighth (17 catches, 269 yards, three TDs).MGCCC won 38-28 a year ago in Perkinston, amassing an incredible 548 yards of total offense behind the running talents of Vic Ballard – now a Mississippi State University standout – who finished the night with 250 yards on 32 carries.The Bulldogs opened the season with two straight home wins, including a 40-21 victory over defending state champ East Mississippi, then followed with a 52-0 blowout over Mississippi Delta before opening its division schedule with a 31-24 come-from-behind victory over Jones County in Ellisville.Pearl River and Gulf Coast met in 2008''s MACJC state championship game and the Bulldogs rolled to a 52-7 victory over the Wildcats in Perkinston, marking the worst defeat – by points – in the long history of Wildcat football.The Pearl River-Perk RivalryThe Pearl River-Perk rivalry dates back to 1926 when the Wildcats took a 6-0 victory in the inaugural match-up. PRCC won 10 straight until Gulf Coast took a 26-6 win in 1936, then followed with a second win in 1939.In 1942, the two teams didn''t play after the season was shortened to only four games due to the country''s involvement in World War II, while the entire 1943 season was cancelled. Junior college football play resumed in 1944 and the two teams battled to a 7-7 deadlock, then the Bulldogs won 6-0 in 1945.A year later, legendary Wildcat head coach Dobie Holden arrived on the scene and turned in a 7-6 victory, then followed in 1947 with a 2-0 victory – the lowest-scoring game in Pearl River history. Perk rebounded the following year with a narrow 20-19 decision, but the Wildcats answered the setback by reeling off 17 straight wins before the Bulldogs wiped out the Wildcats 33-0 in 1966 in Holden''s last season.Gulf Coast won three straight before Holden successor, John Russell, won 35-0 in 1969 and 12-7 in 1970. The Bulldogs were 37-21 winners in 1971, but the Wildcats pulled off a thrilling 22-21 victory in 1972 and a 10-3 win in 1973 in Russell''s last season at PRCC.From 1974 through 1986, Gulf Coast won 11 of 13 under long-time head coach George Sekul, who is the winningest coach in junior college history, but PRCC rebounded with seven straight, including 1993''s 64-20 blowout, before the Bulldogs won 25-14 in 1994.Pearl River took a 21-14 win in 1995 in Keith Daniels'' first season at the Wildcat helm, but Perk won 27-23 in 1996. In 1997, the rivalry saw the high-scoring 61-55 battle that boasted numerous record-breaking individual and team efforts. Gulf Coast won three straight until last year''s lopsided victory in Poplarville.In 2001, the Wildcats celebrated Homecoming in grand style with a record-setting 52-9 blowout over the Bulldogs behind then-head coach Scott Maxfield''s touted “air raid” offense which was tops in the nation in 2001. Pearl River finished that game with 661 total offensive yards (second highest in history) and a record 35 first downs behind the talents of All-American quarterback Charlie Reeve.Besides Reeve''s throwing antics in the 2001 game, PRCC boasted two 100-yard rushers in Kris Cannon and Kiel Angry. Cannon amassed 182 yards of total offense against the Bulldogs, including a career-high 122 yards on the ground. Angry finished the afternoon with 109 yards.The Wildcats took a muddy, come-from-behind 42-41 victory in Perkinston in 2002; then bounced back with a 38-0 blowout in Poplarville in 2003''s state championship season.The Bulldogs won a high-scoring 55-47 regular-season thriller in 2005; snapping a record 23-game winning streak by then-defending NJCAA national champion PRCC. But the Wildcats avenged the setback a month later with a hard-fought 25-19 victory in the MACJC title bout for the state championship.In 2006, a standing-room-only crowd estimated at 8,000-plus packed Holden Stadium in a battle between the rivals ranked first (PRCC) and third (MGCCC) in the NJCAA with the Wildcats taking a 36-22 victory. In 2007, Gulf Coast took a hard-fought 24-17 win over The River amidst the muck and mud of A.L. May Stadium in Perkinston in both squads'' South Division openers, while the Bulldogs used a late touchdown to trim the Wildcats 10-3 in Poplarville in 2008''s regular-season match up.PRCC leads the series with an impressive 53-30-1 mark and has won or shared an unprecedented 19 MACJC titles, while Gulf Coast has won or shared 13. The Bulldogs have won four national championships in 1970, 1982, and 1984 under Sekul and 2007''s co-title with Butler (Kan.) under Campbell. PRCC has won national titles in 1961 and 2004 when the Wildcats took a 52-26 victory over the Bulldogs in Poplarville.The Wildcats won or shared four straight state titles from 1924 through 1928. In 1928, PRCC shared the championship with Sunflower (now Mississippi Delta) and now-defunct Clarke. Pearl River won three straight championships from 1958 through 1961 and were co-champs with Northwest Mississippi in 1960.South Division power Hinds won four straight titles from 1994 through 1997, while Northwest Mississippi won four over a span of six years from 1987 through 1992.In Other MACJC Action Last WeekIn other South Division action around the league, 14th-ranked Copiah-Lincoln smacked Jones County 20-14 in Wesson; while in the North Division, ninth-ranked Northwest Mississippi pounded Coahoma 37-7 in Senatobia, defending North Division and state champ East Mississippi smacked Itawamba 37-10 in Fulton, and Northeast Mississippi defeated Holmes 35-20 in Goodman.In this week''s only inter-divisional match up, 22nd-ranked Hinds trimmed Mississippi Delta 37-31 in Raymond.This Week Around The LeagueSix of this week''s seven games are set for Thursday, while South Division foes East Central (0-4, 0-1) and Hinds (3-1, 0-1) do battle in Decatur for ECCC''s homecoming on Saturday. Other Thursday contests in the South include Southwest Mississippi (2-2, 0-2) hosting undefeated Copiah-Lincoln (4-0, 2-0) in Summit and Pearl River (3-1, 2-0) hosting undefeated Mississippi Gulf Coast (4-0, 2-0) in Poplarville. In the North, Coahoma (2-2, 1-1) hosts defending division and state champ East Mississippi (1-3, 1-1) in Clarksdale, winless Mississippi Delta (0-4, 0-2) hosts Itawamba (1-3, 0-1) in Moorhead, and Northeast Mississippi (3-1, 2-0) hosts undefeated Northwest Mississippi (4-0, 2-0) in Booneville.Jones County (2-2) hosts winless Holmes (0-4) in Ellisville on Thursday in this week''s only inter-divisional match up.Listen To The WildcatsAll 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. Air time for Thursday''s PRCC-ECCC broadcast is 6:30 p.m. You may also 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.n Pearl River Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, or disability. For inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies or to request accommodations, special assistance, or alternate format publication, please con-tact Tonia Moody, ADA/Civil Rights Coordinator, at P.O. Box 5118, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1060.
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