Wildcats come up a point shy to Rangers in OT in opener

SENATOBIA Eighth-ranked Pearl River fell to ninth-ranked Northwest Mississippi 56-55 in overtime in season-opening football action here Thursday in a record-setting offensive confrontation that saw the two rivals amass a combined 1,114 yards of total offense. After trailing 41-28 early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats knotted things up at 49-49 with 1:23 left in regulation before seeing the host Rangers go up by seven on the first overtime possession. PRCC answered with a TD only to see quarterback Melvin German of Ft. Myers, Fla., come up short on a two-point conversion for the win. Give them (Northwest) credit, but they never were able to stop us offensively all night, said 10th-year Wildcat head coach Tim Hatten. Our special teams, particularly our kicking game, was horrible. They wound up 21 points that were directly related to our special teams. You cant do that against a team of their caliber. Plus when (defensive back) Steve (McNair, Jr.) went down with an ankle sprain in the first half, that really put us in a bind in the secondary, he continued. Going in, we knew we would be in trouble if any of our defensive backs were injured. Northwest scored on the opening possession of the game when quarterback Ryan Mossakowski engineered a seven-play, 67-yard scoring drive. The University of Kentucky transfer was four of six in the series, connecting with University of Arkansas transfer Lance Ray for the score with 12:42 left in the first. Chase Carpenter was wide on his extra point attempt, but NWCC led 6-0 with 12:42 left in the first. Two possessions later, The River took the lead. Starting at its own 25, German arm quickly moved the Wildcats to the 32 with completions to Jonathan Duncan of Petal High, Seth Roberts of Tallahassee, Fla., and Jaquaa Peters of Columbia High; then freshman running back Markeyus (Cheeto) Johnson ran it in for the score. Caleb Kergosien out of St. Stanslaus College in Bay St. Louis kicked the PAT to give PRCC a 7-6 edge with 6:09 remaining in the period. On the Rangers ensuing possession. Teshadi Talton burst for 10 yards on first down before Mossakowski zipped a 27-yard completion to Marcus Henry to his own 41. On the next snap, Mossakowski was pounded from his right side by Dunzie Goins of Lumberton High and the resulting fumble was recovered by Goins prep teammate Jamaal Taylor at midfield. After Steve Simon of Columbia High ran for three on first down, German completed four straight the last a 13-yard catch-and-run TD by Cheeto Johnson. Kergosein extra point was good and the Wildcats led 14-6 with 2:45 left in the first. But lightning struck when Ray, who was the Southeastern Conference kickoff return leader last year as an Arkansas Razorback, returned the ensuing kick 82 yards for a score. Adrian Golden ran in for the two-point conversion to knot things at 14-14 at the 2:38 mark of the first period. The Wildcats answered with an eight-play, 21-yard drive to the Ranger 42 only to see German picked off by Bakari Trotter at his own 38 on the third snap of the second period. Three series later, PRCC regained the lead with a nine-play, 74-yard scoring drive. German was six of eight in the possession, including three to Snoop Rollins of North Forrest High with the last good for a 12-yard score. Kergosien kicked the extra point to put The River up 21-14 with 2:57 left in the quarter. On the Pearl River last possession of the half, the Wildcats drove to the Rangers one-yard line in nine snaps only to see German sacked for a minus-14 yards on third down. Kergosein 32-yard field goal attempt was no good. After one Northwest snap, the half ended. Leonard Johnson of East Marion High took the opening kickoff of the second half in the end zone and return it to the Wildcat 44. But PRCC went three and out and NWCC wasted little time tying it up. The Rangers drove from the 16 to their own 48 on their ensuing possession, but the Wildcats held and Carpenter arrived to punt on a fourth and 13. His 46-yard boot was muffed by Leonard Johnson at the one and Northwest Demarius Peagues recovered. A snap later, Mossakowski ran in for the score. Carpenter PAT tied it up at 21-21 with 11:24 left in the third. Pearl River went three and out on its next possession and punter Rickey Bradley of Oak Grove High shanked his kick for a meager 12 yards giving Northwest possession at the Wildcat 32. Talton ran for a combined 15 yards on the first two downs before Mossakowski hit Dex Herrington with a 17-yard scoring pass to give the Rangers the lead. Carpenter extra point made it 28-21 with 8:02 left in the third. But the Wildcats retaliated. Starting at its own 20, PRCC drove 78 yards to the NWCC two in 11 plays where German then kept for the score. Kergosien PAT tied it up at 28-28 with 3:40 left in the period. Just over a minute later, Northwest regained the lead when Mossakowski hit Ray with a 74-yard scoring pass. Carpenter extra point made it 35-28 with 2:56 left in the third. German was picked off by Randolph Williams five plays into Pearl River ensuing possession and it took the Rangers only six plays to pad their lead. After Mossakowski hit Darryl Kinkle with a 30-yard pass to the Wildcat 15 on first down, Northwest stayed on the ground with Mossakowski keeping for a one-yard score with 12:59 left in the fourth. Carpenter extra point was wide, but the Rangers led 41-28. PRCC went into catch up mode. After Leonard Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 28 yards to his own 37, German hit Duncan for 17 yards on first down, then connected with Bradley for 10 two snaps later. Roberts 12-yard catch two plays later moved things to the 17 where German found Bradley in the end zone for the score. Kergosein kicked the extra point to make it 41-35 at the 10:56 mark. After the Rangers went three and out and Carpenter 38-yard unreturned punt landed at the Wildcat five, The River regained the lead. German kept for six on first down before hitting Rollins with three completions for a combined 25 yards over the next three snaps. Facing a fourth and one at its own 36, PRCC went for broke and German found Ketrick Wolfe a 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive lineman over the middle and the sophomore from Sumrall High sprinted 64 yards for the score. Kergosein extra point put Pearl River up 42-41 with 6:23 left in the final quarter. After the Rangers returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 38, Leonard Johnson picked off Mossakowski at the 45, but the Wildcats went three and out and Bradley punted 49 yards to the end zone. Talton back-to-back runs moved Northwest to its own 33, then Mossakowski hit Londen Parker with a 24-yard completion a down later before connecting with Ray for a 43-yard spectacular TD catch in the end zone. Ray then caught the two-point conversion pass to put the Rangers up 49-42 with 2:31 left in the fourth. Leonard Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 25 yards to his own 35. Four plays later, the Wildcats were at their own 46 and German found Duncan with a 10-yard completion. A 15-yard Ranger penalty pushed things to the Northwest 30 where Roberts made a leaping grab in the end zone to cut the lead to one. Kergosein PAT tied it up at 49-49 with 1:23 left in regulation. The Rangers drove from their 29 to the Wildcat 23 in four plays, setting up a 40-yard Carpenter field goal attempt that sailed wide right as time expired. NWCC had first possession in overtime and a pass interference penalty on first down moved things to the 10. Mossakowski hit Kinkle with a scoring pass a snap later and Carpenter PAT made it 56-49. PRCC answered. Cheeto Johnson ran for six on first down to the 19, then caught a pass for three. German hit Simon for six yards to the 10 before finding Roberts in the end zone for the score. The game-winning, two-point conversion failed when German was tackled at the one. We lined up (for the conversion) thinking we could draw them offsides, Hatten explained. We werent going to snap the ball unless the defense jumped. They did (jump) and we snapped it, but the officials didnt call it (offsides penalty) and the game was over. That the breaks. Pearl River finished the game with 34 first downs the second-highest total in school history to Northwest 20, while generating 631 yards of total offense which is ranked fourth in the Wildcat Record Book. The Wildcats finished with 533 passing yards, while German had 496 yards through the air both marks second-highest in history. German completed 42 of 64 passes (two interceptions), while Duncan was two-for-two for 37. German 42 completions ranks first in the Wildcat archives, while his 64 attempts is second. Rollins 14 catches (game-best 133 yards) is also the most in school history, while Duncan finished with six for 86, Peters six for 84, Roberts six for 82, Wolfe one for 64, McNair four for 22, Simon two for 19, and Cheeto Johnson two for 16. He also led all Wildcat rushers with 45 yards on six carries, while German had 35 on 18, Simon 16 on four, and Marquis Smith of Hattiesburg High one for two. Mossakowski was 20 of 37 (one interception) for 415 yards, while Talton led all runners in the contest with 68 yards on 16 carries. Ray finished the night with three catches for 147 yards, while Henry was four for 107. The Rangers were penalized 14 times for 115 yards, while the Wildcats drew nine flags for 57. Bradley punted five times for a 32.6-yard average to Carpenter six for 41.3.Elsewhere Around The MACJC In other Thursday night action (all non-division games), Nineteenth-ranked Copiah-Lincoln defeated Coahoma 24-14 in Clarksdale, Hinds pounced Itawamba 44-24 in Raymond, Southwest Mississippi was a 24-21 overtime winner over Holmes in Summit, Northeast Mississippi thumped East Central 40-27 in Booneville, Jones County shut out Mississippi Delta 33-0 in Ellisville, and 16th-ranked East Mississippi defeated second-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast 34-30 in Scooba.Next Week In The MACJC Next Thursday (all non-division games), Jones County hosts Coahoma in Ellisville, Holmes hosts Co-Lin in Goodman, East Central hosts Northeast Mississippi in Decatur, Hinds hosts East Mississippi in Raymond, Itawamba hosts Pearl River in Fulton, and Mississippi Delta hosts Mississippi Gulf Coast in Moorhead.

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