River eyes big road test against East Central

POPLARVILLE Fifteenth-ranked Pearl River takes a two-game winning streak into Thursday MACJC South Division road battle with East Central, but 10th-year Wildcat head coach Tim Hatten says the host Warriors arent to be taken lightly.PRCC, 2-1 overall and 1-0 in division play, comes into the contest off a hard-fought 27-21 division win over scrappy Southwest Mississippi last week at home, pulling out the victory in the final two minutes of play.ECCC, on the other hand, opened the season with back-to-back losses 40-26 at Northeast Mississippi and 42-19 to fourth-ranked Northwest Mississippi at home before pulling off a 24-14 victory over still-winless Itawamba last week in Decatur.They (ECCC) always play hard and seem to always play well against the Wildcats, said Hatten. Last year, that wasnt the case (in a 44-13 victory). We managed to force five turnovers and two (interceptions) were returned for scores. We were fortunate because they out gained us offensively.Ironically, the Warriors finished the 2010 contest with 327 yards of total offense (141 rush, 186 pass) to the Wildcats 266 (47 rush, 219 pass) while generating 19 first downs to The River 14.Pearl River enters the game boasting the No. 1 offense in the state and nation, averaging 523 yards per game (395 pass, 128.7 rush), while East Central is 10th in the MACJC with a 275.3-yard per-game average (163.7 pass, 115 rush).Wildcat All-American quarterback Melvin German, a red shirt sophomore who prepped at Dunbar High in Ft. Myers, Fla., tops all comers in the league and nation in passing and individual total offense with 1,147 and 1,267 totals, respectively.Warrior quarterback Mitch Manley efforts rank fifth among league passers, as the Pittsburg, Tex., freshman has connected on 31 of 73 throws (42 percent) with six interceptions for 477 yards and three touchdowns through three games. German, on the other hand, has completed an incredible 71.6 percent (101 of 141) of his throws with three picks.Dennis Thames and LaVadius Lyles are the leading ECCC ground gainers, averaging 45.7 and 44.7 yards a game, respectively.The Warriors sport the fourth-best defense in the MACJC, giving up an average 254 yards a game (153.3 pass, 100.7 rush), while Wildcat defenders render an average of 331 (203.3 pass, 122.7 rush) a contest.The Wildcat-Warrior RivalryPearl River leads the age-old series with 48 wins and 19 losses, while there have been four ties in the series that dates back to 1935. The Wildcats took a lopsided 20-8 victory in the inaugural match up, but the following season the two teams battled to a 7-7 deadlock. PRCC rebounded with a 13-0 win in 1937, but the Warriors answered the shutout three straight wins in 1938, 1939, and 1940.East Central was a 26-16 winner over PRCC in Decatur in 2001''s regular season finale, which decided the South Division No. 2 seed in the MACJC post-season playoffs. With the win, the Warriors grabbed the playoff berth and KOed the Wildcats post-season aspirations. The Warriors were defeated by Mississippi Delta in the opening round of the playoffs.Pearl River took a 13-9 victory over the Warriors in Decatur in Hatten inaugural season to wrap up 2002 and finish with its first division title in a decade with a perfect 6-0 league record. In 2003, the Wildcats blew out the Warriors 35-6 in Decatur.PRCC 2004 blowout in Poplarville is ranked 10th among the school top victories by points, while the Wildcats opened their season by defeating the Warriors 35-10 in 2006 on the road, then pounced their likes 33-22 in 2007 in Decatur. In 2008, The River still squeaked into the post-season playoffs as the South No. 2 seed despite East Central 44-38 overtime win in both teams regular-season finales.In 2009, the Wildcats took a 30-27 overtime victory in Decatur off a 37-yard field goal by Travis Bradley.Prior to the division-clinching win in 2002, the last time PRCC defeated the Warriors was in 1995 by a lopsided 58-10 score. ECCC followed by reeling off six straight victories, including 1999''s 46-7 splattering in Poplarville which is the second-worst loss by a PRCC team in school history.Lopsided scores are not uncommon in the series. PRCC 48-point victory in 1995 was one of the biggest wins in Wildcat history, while in 1969, Pearl River won 61-18 in a game that saw 47 points come its way in the first half alone.In 1953, Pearl River was 51-13 victors, amassing 612 yards of total offense the third-highest total in school history, including 425 yards on the ground while in 1993 the Wildcats rushed for 457 yards in a 35-7 victory, which is the highest rushing total in school history.In legendary PRCC head coach Dobie Holden inaugural season with the Wildcats in 1946, the two schools battled to a 0-0 deadlock, but over the next 19 seasons Holden won 14 and lost only two. John Russell, Holden long-time assistant coach and head coaching successor, lost 20-11 in his first game with the Wildcats in 1967, but won six straight before resigning before the 1974 season.J.C. Arban arrived on the scene in 1975 and recorded a 6-4-1 mark, while he was followed by Mike Nelson who won three and lost one. Willie Coats, who left PRCC for East Central following the 1994 season, was a perfect 5-0 against the Warriors, while Keith Daniels, who coached the Wildcats from 1995 until midway of the 2000 season when he died of a brain hemorrhage, was 1-4 in five-and-a-half seasons.The Warriors have never won a state championship, while the Wildcats have won an MACJC record 19, including two national titles in 1961 and 2004.Elsewhere Around The MACJCIn other South Division action last week, 13th-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast (2-1, 1-0) downed Jones County 17-10 (2-1, 0-1) in Perkinston and Hinds (2-1, 1-0) demolished 20th-ranked Copiah-Lincoln (2-1, 0-1) 36-0 in Wesson. In the North, eighth-ranked East Mississippi (3-0, 1-0) squeaked past fourth-ranked Northwest Mississippi (2-1, 0-1) 45-42 in Senatobia, Northeast Mississippi (3-0, 1-0) defeated Mississippi Delta (0-3, 0-1) 16-3 in Moorhead, and Holmes (1-2, 1-0) trimmed Coahoma (0-3, 0-1) 15-14 in Goodman. East Central (1-2) 24-17 win over Itawamba (0-3) was the only non-division game of the week.This Week In The MACJCThis Thursday in the MACJC, Mississippi Delta hosts Hinds in Moorhead for its homecoming and the only non-division match up of the week. In the South on Thursday, East Central hosts Pearl River in Decatur and Southwest hosts Gulf Coast in Summit; while Jones County hosts Co-Lin in Ellisville on Saturday. In the North on Thursday, Coahoma hosts Northwest in Clarksdale, East Mississippi hosts Itawamba in Scooba, and Northeast hosts Holmes in Booneville.Listen To The WildcatsAll 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. Air time for Thursday PRCC-ECCC broadcast is 6 p.m. You may also listen to the Wildcats over the internet by logging on to

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