Turnover-plagued East Central falls 44-13 to Pearl River

POPLARVILLE – Four weeks ago, Pearl River fell 27-17 in their 2010 football season opener to Northwest Mississippi in a MACJC non-division battle that saw a whopping five turnovers come the home-standing Wildcats'' way.Since, The River hasn''t committed one solitary miscue and, as a result, has reeled off three straight victories en route to boasting a 3-1 overall and 2-0 South Division mark.That''s not the case, however, for winless East Central – PRCC''s latest victim – which suffered a heartbreaking 44-13 decision here Thursday in Dobie Holden Stadium in its South Division opener behind a barrage of five turnovers (three interceptions, two lost fumbles).The winless Warriors dropped to 0-4 and 0-2 with the defeat.”I said going in that they (East Central) had a pretty solid offense,” ninth-year Pearl River head coach Tim Hatten said after the game in which the visitors out-gained his Wildcats offensively 327-266 in net total yards. “They just fell victim to their five turnovers. I feel for them…we''ve already sang that tune.”But give us credit, our defensive guys created those five turnovers.”Pearl River turned two of ECCC''s interceptions into scores. Tobias Irby of Oak Grove High returned a pick 45 yards for a scare midway in the second period, then Derrick Bourne of Columbia High sped 73 yards with a pick to the end zone in the final minute of play for the game''s final touchdown.Marcus Jemison of Birmingham, Ala. (McAdory High School), picked off Warrior quarterback Blake Matherne at ECCC''s 25 late in the third period and returned the miscue 11 yards to the 14. A snap later, Marcquis Smith ran it in for a score.”We may have given up over 300 yards, but our defense played one heckuva game,” Hatten added. “When you can produce five turnovers, you''ve got to be pleased.”The Wildcats went up 7-0 on their first possession of the night. After the Warriors'' game-opening drive stalled at midfield, Fabian Johnson punted a 45-yarder and pinned PRCC at its own four.River quarterback Melvin German, a red shirt freshman from Fort Myers, Fla., went to work and engineered a time-consuming, 17-play drive to the end zone – capping the series with a 13-yard TD pass to Leonard Johnson of East Marion. Ryan Knight of Sumrall High kicked the extra point to give the Wildcats a seven-point lead with 3:48 left in the first period. The River converted three third-down situations in the drive.East Central answered with a three and out and Johnson''s 53-yard punt was returned five yards by Steve McNair, Jr., to the Wildcat 25.After zipping a 17-yard gainer to Seth Roberts of Tallahassee, Fla., German found McNair with a 51-yard completion to the Warrior seven. Snoop Rollins of North Forrest High then snagged a seven-yard pass to the one before German kept for the remaining yard and the score. Knight''s kick was no good, but PRCC led 13-0 with 46 seconds left in the period.After and exchange of punts, ECCC took possession at its own 36. A Wildcat offsides penalty converted a fourth and one to the midfield stripe, then Matherne fired a 50-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Porzell two snaps later. Jemison blocked Jaron Loris'' extra point attempt, but Pearl River''s lead was cut to 13-6 with 10:15 left in the half.Then lightning struck – twice.After Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 69 yards to the East Central one, German immediately kept for the score. Knight''s PAT was good and, in a flash, PRCC was up 20-6 with 9:54 left in the half.Three plays into the Warriors next possession, Irby picked off Matherne and returned it for a 45-yard score. Knight converted and things were 27-6 with 8:46 left in the half.East Central started its ensuing possession at its own five and managed to drive to the Pearl River 22 in 14 plays, but Matherne fumbled on a minus-10-yard sack and defensive lineman Justin Graham of Sumrall High picked up the miscue and returned it 25 yards to the Warrior 43.An ECCC personal foul moved things to the 28. Six plays later things bogged down at the seven and Knight booted a 25-yard field goal to make it 30-6 with 19 ticks left before the halftime gun.Two Warrior snaps later, the half ended.On East Central''s second possession of the second half, Jemison intercepted Matherne at the ECCC 25 and returned his pick to the 14. A snap later, Smith scored and Knight''s PAT made it 37-6 with 5:34 left in the third.The first Pearl River two plays of the final period went for back-to-back minus-eight-yard losses and Knight punted on a fourth and 32 from his own 31, putting the Warriors in business at their own 39. It took only 10 plays for East Central to cash in for its final score.Matherne converted a third and three late in the drive with a 20-yard completion to Radarius Owens to the PRCC three before a Wildcat penalty moved things to the one where Rod Hawkins carried it in for the score. Loris'' extra point made it 37-13 with 8:50 left in the game.Four series later, Bourne had his 73-yard interception return and Knight''s extra point ended the scoring at 44-13.Pearl River finished the night with 14 first downs to East Central''s 19, while the Wildcats drew eight penalties for 47 yards to the Warriors'' seven flags for 65.Offensively, PRCC finished with 47 yards rushing and 219 passing; while ECCC had 141 on the ground and 186 through the air.German connected on 60.7 percent of his throws (17 of 28) with no interceptions, while Matherne was 17 of 36 (47.2 percent) with three picks.McNair led Wildcat receivers with 72 yards on four catches, while Rollins had five for 47, Jhyryan Taylor of Franklinton, La., two for 38; and Roberts two for 24.Other Week Three Action In The MACJCIn other South Division action around the MACJC, top-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast bombed Southwest Mississippi 51-21 in Perkinston and 15th-ranked Copiah-Lincoln smacked Jones County 20-14 in Wesson; while in the North Division, 10th-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.Next Week In The MACJCSix of next 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, Oct. 2. 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 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 the week''s only inter-divisional match up.

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