River hopes to rebound from Co-Lin loss with trip to East Mississippi Saturday

POPLARVILLE The top two passing offenses in the MACJC will lock horns Saturday when defending state champ East Mississippi hosts 18th-ranked Pearl River for its 2010 Homecoming game. PRCC hopes to rebound back into the win column when it travels to Scooba for its 3 p.m. non-division battle with the Lions. The Wildcats, fresh off a heartbreaking 20-14 South Division loss to eighth-ranked Copiah-Lincoln last weekend in Wesson, dropped to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in division play with the setback. The Lions, 2-4 and 2-2 in the North, were stunned by Northeast Mississippi 49-42 a week ago at home. Ninth-year PRCC head coach Tim Hatten says EMCC is solid as anybody on both sides of the ball despite its losing record. Theyve seemed to have a lot more downs than ups this year, but theyre still a very talented team with good skill people, Hatten said. And it East Mississippi homecoming…you always get pumped up for your homecoming game and I expect them to be ready to go. The Lions have averaged 35 points game thus far third-best in the MACJC and have topped the 40-point mark offensive in half its games. East Miss averages a league-best 277.2 passing yards a game to Pearl River second-best 274 and ranks second in the state in total offense with a 434.3 per-game average (ninth-best 145.7 rush) to PRCC eight-best offensive mark of 346.5 (12th-best 72.5 rush). Surprisingly, the Lions opened the season with three straight losses. Mississippi Gulf Coast kicked off the year by hammering EMCC 40-21, then Hinds took a 50-42 win before nationally-ranked Northwest Mississippi opened both teams North Division schedules with a 25-19 victory. EMCC bounced back with division wins over Itawamba (27-10) and Coahoma (49-14) to pump its North record to 2-1 before Northeast pulled its win last week in Scooba. Saturday contest mark the second time ninth-year Pearl River head coach Tim Hatten has matched up his Wildcats against long-time River assistant Buddy Stephens, a former PRCC player who was hired as the Lions head coach in 2008 spending seven years at The River six of which were under Hatten. Stephens, who also took then-seven-year Wildcat defensive coordinator William Jones with him to Scooba, has prospered since his departure from Poplarville. He guided the Lions into the post-season playoffs in his first season (first appearance since 1985) and wound up winning the whole kabootle statewide a year later, which included a 27-24 victory over Western Arizona in early December Mississippi Bowl in Biloxi. Saturday battle marks the 43rd meeting between the two schools. PRCC holds a 28-12-2 win-loss-tie margin over EMCC.The EMCC-PRCC Rivalry The Pearl River-East Mississippi rivalry dates back to 1933 with the Wildcats winning the inaugural match up 18-0, while the Lions won 14-6 in 1934. From there, PRCC dominated the series winning seven straight before tying 6-6 in 1947. A year later, legendary Wildcat head coach Dobie Holden arrived in Poplarville and compiled a 10-4-1 record from 1948 through 1966. Holden successor, John Russell (1967-73), was 2-1 against EMCC, while J.C. Arban was 3-3 during his stint from 1975-85. Willie Coats (1990-94) was 2-0, Keith Daniels (1995-2000) was 1-3, and Hatten is 1-0. Head coaches Harvey Seligman (1974), Mike Nelson (1986-89), and Scott Maxfield (2001) never faced East Mississippi during their tenures. The last time PRCC and EMCC locked horns was in the Wildcats 2004 state and national championship season when The River took a 40-0 blowout win in Poplarville. That contest ranks 18th in the largest victories by points in the Pearl River history. In 1999, Lion running back Sammy Brooks rushed for 124 yards to propel his team to a 35-3 non-division victory in Poplarville. East Miss finished with 385 yards of total offense (239 rush, 146 pass), while the Wildcats had 292 (131 rush, 161 pass). In 1998, East Miss recorded a 48-10 victory in Scooba, marking fifth-worse Wildcat loss in school history. PRCC hung tough for the first quarter, but EMCC reeled-off seven touchdowns four by running back Carl Fair, who went on to star at UAB to take the lopsided win. PRCC 63-13 win over East Miss in 1991 is the seventh-highest margin of victory in school history. In that game, the Wildcats amassed 529 yards of total offense and scored 35 points in the first half alone. The River took a high-scoring 42-35 victory in the two teams post-season meeting in 2008. The Lions have won one state championship last season while PRCC has won an unmatched 19 titles. Pearl River leads its series with East Miss 27-12 (two ties). Elsewhere Around The League Last WeekIn other South Division action around the MACJC last week, 11th-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast bombed East Central 42-16 in Perkinston and Hinds spoiled Jones County Homecoming with a 27-23 nail biter in Ellisville. In the North, Mississippi Delta splattered Holmes 34-7 in Moorhead for its first win of the year, Northeast Mississippi trimmed defending North and state champ East Mississippi 49-42 in Scooba, and Itawamba nipped Coahoma 27-26 in its Homecoming tilt in Fulton. Sixth-ranked Northwest Mississippi smacked Southwest Mississippi 24-7 in Senatobia in last week only inter-divisional match up.Other MACJC Games This WeekOnly one Thursday game is on tap for Week 7 with East Central (1-5, 1-2) hosting Jones County (2-4, 0-3) in Decatur. Six Saturday games are set, including Homecoming games at Holmes, East Mississippi, and Mississippi Gulf Coast. In the North Division, Holmes (0-6, 0-2) hosts Itawamba in Goodman, Northeast Mississippi (4-2, 3-1) hosts Coahoma (2-4, 1-3) in Booneville, and Northwest Mississippi (6-0, 4-0) hosts Mississippi Delta (1-5, 1-2) in Senatobia; while in the South, Hinds (4-2, 1-2) hosts Southwest Mississippi (2-4, 0-4) in Raymond and Mississippi Gulf Coast (5-1, 3-1) hosts Copiah-Lincoln (6-0, 4-0) in Perkinston. In addition, Pearl River (4-2, 3-1) travels to East Mississippi (2-4, 2-2) in Scooba for the week only inter-divisional contest.Listen To The Wildcats All Pearl River games are broadcast live on WFMM-FM (96.7) 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 broadcast is 4:30 p.m. You may also listen to the Wildcats over the internet by logging on to

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