River out for South Division redemption versus Co-Lin

POPLARVILLE After a huge 17-10 MACJC South Division road loss to Mississippi Gulf Coast a week ago, Pearl River Wildcats are out to bounce back into the win column against reigning division champion Copiah-Lincoln when the Wolfpack visits Thursday. A 7 p.m. kickoff is set here in Dobie Holden Stadium. Both teams enter the battle off division losses to arch rivals last Thursday. Pearl River, 3-2 overall and 2-1 in division play, fell 17-10 to 12th-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast in Perkinston, while Co-Lin, 3-2 and 1-2, was nipped 31-28 at home to Southwest Mississippi. With its second division loss in the books, the Wolves have a steep hill to climb to make it into the post-season, not to mention repeating as division champs. The River, on the other hand, still controls its own playoff destiny, says 10th-year Wildcat head coach Tim Hatten, and it all gets cranked up Thursday. Were still right in the middle of the (playoff) mix, he said. Of course, we cant afford another loss, but Im more than confident well rise to the occasion. After leaving three, maybe four, touchdowns on the field last week (at Perk), we arent going to let that happen again. The Wildcats were penalized eight times for a whopping 100 yards in their setback at Perkinston, while the host Bulldogs drew only two flags for a mere 25. On MGCCC game-winning drive early in the fourth quarter, PRCC was tagged with three 15-yard personal foul miscues, along with a fourth inside the five which handed the Bulldogs a first and goal at the two. That not smart football…that stupid football, Hatten explained. You cant make those kind of mistakes and expect to win…particularly against a team the caliber of Gulf Coast. Co-Lin opened its season with back-to-back road victories 24-14 at Coahoma and 47-14 at Holmes before getting bombed 38-0 by Hinds in its home and division opener in Wesson. The Wolfpack bounced back with a 14-7 division win over Jones County in Ellisville in week four only to see rival SMCC take its win via a 27-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in the game. Pearl River opened with a 56-55 overtime loss to Northwest Mississippi in Senatobia before rebounding with three straight victories 34-8 over Itawamba in Fulton, 27-20 over Southwest in its home and division opener, and 31-13 over South foe East Central in Decatur before falling to Gulf Coast. The Wildcats came within a whisker of pushing their MGCCC contest into overtime. With nine seconds remaining, All-American quarterback Melvin German of Ft. Myers, Fla., tossed a 48-yard completion to Jonathan Duncan inside the Bulldog two-yard line and the sophomore wide receiver out of Oak Grove High rolled into the end zone only to be ruled down at the one-foot line. It shouldve never came down to that, said Hatten. That particular call isnt what cost us that game. Our shortcomings on the offensive side, particularly in the first half, is what really spelled our fate. The Wildcats drove to the Bulldogs eight on the game opening possession, but had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Pacer Frierson of Picayune Memorial High. After Derrick Bourne of Columbia High KOed MGCCC ensuing possession with a interception and returned his pick to the Bulldog 25, The River drove to the two only to see German throw incomplete on fourth down. A year ago, then-10th-ranked Co-Lin stymied then-12th-ranked Pearl River in the second half and rallied to a 21-14 come-from-behind Homecoming victory in Wesson, marking its second straight victory over The River. PRCC jumped out to a 14-0 lead midway in the second quarter before CLCC closed the gap to 14-7 only minutes later and bounced back with 14 unanswered points in the third and fourth periods to ice the victory. The Wolves limited the potent Wildcat offense to a meager 97 yards in the second half 64 of which came off a dazzling run by then-freshman Marcquis Smith of Hattiesburg High to the Co-Lin seven. Four plays after Smith antics, a 21-yard field goal attempt by Travis Bradley of Pascagoula High was blocked and The River never really threatened again. Pearl River ranks third in the MACJC in total offense, averaging 470 yards (tops in passing at 371.7, last in rushing at 98.4) a game, while Co-Lin offensive attack ranks seventh at 315 yards an outing. The Wolfpack aerial show is eighth statewide at 149 yards a game, while its ground game is fourth at 166 per outing. Defensively, CLCC is fourth in the league, giving up an average of 263 yards a game (fourth-best 145 passing, ninth-best 118 rushing); while PRCC ranks seventh. Wildcat defenders give up an average of 295.4 yards a contest with a ninth-best 180.8 yards through the air and a seventh-best 114.6 on the ground. German leads the state and nation in passing. The sophomore Floridian has completed 154 of 238 of his throws (64.7 percent) for 1,821 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions, while Co-Lin Chandler Rogers ranks sixth among MACJC signal callers, completing 54 of 105 passes for 746 yards with four TDs and six picks. Duncan and Snoop Rollins of North Forrest High rank first and second, respectively, among receivers in the league. Duncan has 37 catches for 410 yards and two scores, while Rollins has 34 for two TDs. The Wolves secondary boasts two of the top defensive backs in the league in Davian Noble and Denhendret Collins, as the duo has picked off five and four passes, respectively, thus far into the season. Noble is in a three-way tie for first in interceptions statewide, while Collins is tied for second. Steve McNair, Jr., of Oak Grove High has three pass picks and is tied with three others for third-best in the MACJC.The Wildcat-Wolf Rivalry Saturday South Division battle marks the 78th time the two schools have met on the gridiron in a rivalry that dates back to 1934 when the Wolves took a 12_0 shutout over the Wildcats. With the exception of 1936”s 7_7 and 1941”s 13_13 deadlocks, Pearl River wasn”t victorious over Co_Lin until 1946”s 32_7 win. Legendary PRCC head coach Dobie Holden led the Wildcats on a nine_year winning streak over the Wolves, starting in 1948 before Co-Lin snapped the string with a 20_14 victory in 1955, then won 14_13 in 1957. Pearl River pounded the Wolves 52_6 in 1961”s state and national championship season, then took a 50_14 lopsided win two years later in another state title year for the River. After 1964”s 42_0 shutout, the Wolves picked up a 15_7 and 21_19 victories in 1965 and 1966, respectively. John Russell succeeded Holden in 1967 and was 5_1_1 against the Wolves in his seven seasons at the Wildcat helm. Harvey Seligman was named interim head coach the 1974 season after Russell resigned during the preseason and recorded a 16_13 win over Co_Lin. J.C. Arban arrived on the scene in 1975 and reeled off a 6_5 mark in his 11 seasons with the Wildcats. Arban”s successor, Mike Nelson, was 1_3 against the Wolves, while Willie Coats followed with a 2_3 mark. Keith Daniels succeeded Coats in 1995 and was 2_3 in five years. He died of a brain hemorrhage five games into the 2000 season. The Wildcats took a lopsided 45-3 victory in 2005”s Hurricane Katrina-shortened season. In 2006, the Co-Lin stunned the then-top-ranked Wildcats with a 31-21 regular-season upset victory in Wesson, marking Hatten only defeat to Wolves in his storied career. CLCC went on to win the division title, but PRCC, which dropped to No. 9 following the regular-season setback, avenged that defeat with a thrilling 21-20 nailbiter over Co-Lin in the state championship game via a last-minute TD pass from Larry Freeman to Demetrius Byrd. That victory pushed the Wildcats to the No. 2 spot in the national poll and thus a berth in the NJCAA championship game against Blinn (Tex.) where PRCC lost 19-6 in the Pilgrim Pride Bowl in Mt. Pleasant, Tex. Pearl River has defeated Co-Lin in 2007 and 2008, taking a 14-2 and 21-16 decisions, respectively. In 2009, the Wolves took a 42-25 win in Wesson. The Wildcats lead the series with 41 wins and 34 losses (three ties). PRCC has won an unprecedented 19 state championships, while Co_Lin has won nine, including a string of six straight from 1929 through 1934 and back_to_back championships in 1937 and 1938. The Wolfpack won their last championship in 1985, while PRCC has won four straight titles (2003-2006); including an NJCAA national championship in 2004.Elsewhere Around The MACJC In other South Division action last week, Southwest Mississippi(2-3, 1-2) nipped Copiah-Lincoln (3-2, 1-2) 31-28 in Wesson and Hinds (4-1, 3-0) smacked East Central (1-4, 0-2) 31-19 in its Homecoming contest in Raymond. In the North, fourth-ranked and undefeated East Mississippi (5-0, 3-0) bombed winless Coahoma (0-5, 0-3) 56-6 in Scooba, 15th-ranked and undefeated Northeast Mississippi (5-0, 3-0) downed 10th-ranked Northwest Mississippi (3-2, 1-2) 34-28 in Senatobia, and Itawamba (1-4, 1-1 smashed winless Mississippi Delta (0-5, 0-2) in its Homecoming in Fulton. Jones County (3-2) defeated Holmes (1-4) 38-20 in Goodman for the only intra-divisional game of the week. JCJC stands 0-2 in the South Division, while Holmes is 1-1 in the North.This Week In The MACJC Next Thursday in the South Division, Pearl River hosts Co-Lin in Poplarville and Hinds hosts Jones County in Raymond. One South contest set for Saturday when East Central hosts Gulf Coast in Decatur for its Homecoming game, while in the North Coahoma hosts Itawamba for its Homecoming in Clarksdale, Northeast hosts East Mississippi in Booneville, and Holmes hosts Mississippi Delta for its Homecoming in Goodman. Next week only intra-divisional game is set for Thursday when Southwest hosts Northwest in Summit.Listen To The Wildcats All Pearl River games are broadcast live on WFMM-FM (96.7) 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 broadcast is 4:30 p.m. You may also listen to the Wildcats over the internet by logging on to

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