Wildcats take two-game win streak into this Thursday's South Division home game with winless Warriors

POPLARVILLE – Twenty-first-ranked Pearl River Community College takes a two-game winning streak into Thursday''s MACJC South Division football battle with winless East Central, but ninth-year Wildcat head coach Tim Hatten knows all too well the visiting Warriors aren''t to be taken lightly.PRCC, 2-1 overall and 1-0 in division play, comes into the contest off a 35-21 come-from-behind division win over scrappy Southwest Mississippi last week in Summit. And that was after the host Bears slapped a quick first-quarter 14 points on the scoreboard before the Wildcats commenced their victorious rally.ECCC, on the other hand, has suffered through three straight defeats – all to non-division foes – to open its 2010 season. Northeast Mississippi pounded the Warriors 34-6 in Decatur in their season opener before Northwest Mississippi took a convincing 41-26 win the following week in Senatobia. Last week, East Central probably played its best game of the year only to fall 21-14 to Itawamba in Decatur.”They (ECCC) always play hard and seemingly always play well against us,” said Hatten. “Last year, they took us into overtime before we pulled out the (30-27) win.”The Wildcats opened their season with a five-turnover 27-17 setback to now-10th-ranked North Division foe Northwest Mississippi, but has yet to commit such a miscue since.”We had zero turnovers against Itawamba (34-14 win in Poplarville) and last week against Southwest,” Hatten said. “Winning the turnover battle is key to any win and we''ve proven that the past two weeks.”The River was a plus-four in TO margin against Itawamba with three interceptions and a fumble recovery and plus-three last week in Summit with three pass picks. Through the three weeks of the season, East Central was a minus-seven.”Offensively, they''re pretty good,” Hatten added, “and the defensive side of our game isn''t where it should be.”The Warriors have averaged a third-best 264 yards a game through the air in the MACJC, just 24.7 yards behind second-best PRCC at 288.7. East Central puts up 122.3 yards an outing via the rush – ninth-best in the league – while Pearl River is rock bottom in the rankings with a 78.3-yard per-game average.East Central freshman quarterback Blake Matherne leads the Warrior offensive attack, averaging 207.3 passing yards and 93.7 rushing yards a game – both fourth-best totals in the league. Matherne''s primary aerial targets are wide receivers Reggie Hall (15 receptions, 245 yards) and Radarius Owens (12 receptions, 183 yards, one touchdown).PRCC quarterback Melvin German is emerging as one of the elite signal callers in the entire nation. The red shirt freshman out of Fort Myers, Fla., is averaging a league-best 275.3 aerial yards a game and has completed an impressive 69.4 percent (86 of 124 attempts, one interceptions) through three games.”Melvin''s going to get better and better,” Hatten continued. “He''s just getting settled in with our offense.”German completed a career-best 78 percent (32 of 41, no interceptions) of his throws for 330 yards and a touchdown in last week''s victory over Southwest, as well as running for a team-high 64 yards on 12 attempts. Freshman wide receiver Steve McNair, Jr., also had a touchdown pass for 49 yards, while making a game-high seven catches for 82 yards and a TD. McNair leads the league in pass receptions with 23 (9.1 per-game average).Freshman Seth Roberts of Tallahassee, Fla., finished the SMCC contest with six catches for a career-high 131 yards and a score and ranked sixth league-wide with 15 receptions through three games.On the defensive side, PRCC gives up 299 yards (sixth-best 127 rush, fifth-best 172 pass) per game – fifth-best in the league – while ECCC ranks seventh in total defense at 309 yards a game (fifth-best 106, seventh-best 203 pass).The Wildcat-Warrior RivalryPearl River leads the age-old series with 47 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''s No. 2 seed in the MACJC post-season playoffs. With the win, the Warriors grabbed the playoff berth and KO''ed 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''s 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''s 2004 blowout in Poplarville is ranked 10th among the school''s 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''s No. 2 seed despite East Central''s 44-38 overtime win in both teams'' regular-season finales.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''s 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''s 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''s 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.Last Week In The MACJCIn other South Division action around the MACJC last week, 15th-ranked Copiah-Lincoln smacked 22nd-ranked Hinds 30-17 in Raymond; while in the North Division, 10th-ranked Northwest Mississippi trimmed defending division and state champ East Mississippi 25-19 in Scooba, Northeast Mississippi smacked Mississippi Delta 26-13 in Moorhead, and Coahoma bombed Holmes 41-14 in Clarksdale. In the week''s only non-division match up, Itawamba dropped East Central 21-14 in Decatur. On Saturday, top-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast rallied in the second half to take a 31-24 South Division victory over 21st-ranked Jones County in Ellisville.JCJC was ranked 21st in last week''s poll balloting, while MGCCC was second. CLCC moved up from the No. 16 position in this week''s poll, while NWCC moved up from No. 16.This Week In The MACJCSix of next Thursday''s seven games will be division battles with Mississippi Delta (0-3, 0-1) hosting Hinds (2-1, 0-1) in Moorhead in the only intra-divisional contest set for Week 4.Elsewhere, the North sees Northwest Mississippi (3-0, 1-0) hosting Coahoma (2-1, 1-0) in Senatobia, Itawamba (1-2, 0-0) hosting East Mississippi (0-3, 0-1) in Fulton, and Holmes (0-3, 0-1) hosting Northeast Mississippi (1-3, 1-0) in Goodman. In the South, Pearl River (2-1, 1-0) hosts East Central (0-3, 0-0) in Poplarville, Copiah-Lincoln (3-0, 1-0) hosts Jones County (1-2, 0-1) in Wesson, and Mississippi Gulf Coast (3-0, 1-0) hosts Southwest Mississippi (2-1, 0-1) in Perkinston.Listen To The WildcatsAll Pearl River games are broadcast live on WFMM-FM (97.3) 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''s PRCC-ECCC broadcast is 6 p.m. You may also listen to the Wildcats over the internet by logging on to www.prcc.edu. Click on the icon at the bottom left of the screen, and follow the instructions.n Pearl River Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, or disability. For inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies or to request accommodations, special assistance, or alternate format publication, please con-tact Tonia Moody, ADA/Civil Rights Coordinator, at P.O. Box 5118, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1060.

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