River hopes to rebound on the road vs. Delta

POPLARVILLE — The Pearl River Wildcat versus Mississippi Delta Trojan Juco football rivalry hits the gridiron for the 45th time this Thursday in Moorhead after both squads suffered road setbacks in their 2012 season openers this past Saturday...

PRCC fell 35-15 to No. 1-ranked East Mississippi, the reigning MACJC and NJCAA national champions, in Scooba; while MDCC fell 42-21 to No. 6-ranked Hinds in Raymond.

This week's match up marks the first time the Wildcats have faced the Trojans since 2007 when The River took a lopsided 50-10 victory in Poplarville.

Eleventh-year Wildcat head coach Tim Hatten says the Trojans, who have won only two games over the past two seasons, aren't to be taken lightly.

"In this league, you don't look past anybody," he said. "Anybody can beat anybody on a given day. And if we go up there and turn the ball over five times like we did last Saturday in Scooba, things could easily end badly for us."

Both of the Wildcats' lost fumbles at East Mississippi were in the red zone. Mississippi State sophomore transfer quarterback Dylan Favre, who prepped at St. Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis, coughed up the ball via a blind side hit at the Lion 10 on PRCC's final play of the first half, while running back Jamal Hall of Picayune High had the ball stripped after a seven-yard gain at the 17 to kill the Wildcats' first possession of the fourth period.

In addition, Favre was intercepted three times, including a 60-yard pick six by EMCC's Shaquille Fluker for the game's final score with 1:21 left that put any River comeback hopes out of reach.

"We had plenty of opportunities to win, but couldn't capitalize on those opportunities," Hatten continued. "But give them credit. East Mississippi was turnover-free and they managed to get points off one of our interceptions. We were our own worst enemy last Saturday."

Pearl River actually generated more total offensive yards than East Miss with 422 (346 pass, 76 rush) compared to 380 (235 pass, 145 rush).

Favre accounted for all the Wildcats' aerial yardage and also led in rushing with 28 yards on 11 attempts. Wide receivers Darius Holder of Lumberton High and Shawn Jones of North Forrest High each had seven catches with Holder managing a team-high 72 yards and Jones with a third-best 44. The duo accounted for both of PRCC's touchdowns, while TyShean Norris of Southaven High had three receptions for a second-best 70 yards.

First-year Trojan head coach Todd Lott got a baptism of fire in his MACJC debut. Against Hinds, the MDCC defense gave up 397 yards on 80 snaps, including 333 on the ground; while finishing with 281 on 69 plays (179 rush, 102 pass).

Home-standing Hinds led Delta 18-13 at the half.

Lott, who spent the last two seasons at Greenville High School and the previous 22 at nearby Washington School, has taken over a squad that has won just two games over the past two seasons and finished 0-6 in the MACJC North Division in 2011.

The PRCC-MDCC Rivalry
The Wildcat_Trojan rivalry dates back to the 1920s with Pearl River holding a 31_12_2 edge. The two schools even shared a tri_state championship with Clarke College in 1928 back when MDCC was called Sunflower Junior College.

Pearl River won 1999's match_up in Poplarville 24_8, putting an end to four straight wins by Mississippi Delta. PRCC lost 19_10 loss in Moorhead in 1998, while the Trojans won every year from 1993 through 1995. The River won 42_13 in 1992.

During the 1990s, the two teams played six times with MDCC winning four, while the 1980s saw PRCC with a 5_1 winning edge over the Trojans. In 1981, Pearl River played Mississippi Delta twice. The Wildcats won 27_14 in the season opener, then repeated their effort in the first round of the state playoffs winning 19_7. PRCC fell 31_6 to Holmes in the state championship game that year.

The 1970s saw a 5_1_1 mark the Wildcats' way. In 1973, Pearl River trimmed the Trojans 17_14 in Moorhead during the regular season, but Delta got payback in the state title game in Poplarville, winning 21_17.

In the two teams' 2000 meeting, Pearl River took a 16-6 victory via a two-TD performance by defensive back Jesse Parker; marking the first season-opening win for the Wildcats since 1997.

The Wildcats took a hard-fought 39-14 victory over the Trojans in PRCC's national and state championship season in 2004, a lopsided 51-14 win in 2005, a 43-6 victory in 2006 in Moorhead, and a 50-10 win in the last meeting in 2007.

Mississippi Delta has won four state titles — 1928, 1972, 1973, 1993 — including an NJCAA national championship in 1993, while Pearl River boasts an unprecedented 19 state titles (including four straight from 2003 through 2006 under Hatten's guidance) and national championships in 1961 and 2004.

Other MACJC Action This Week
In other season-opening MACJC football action last week — all non-division games — Jones County defeated Holmes 10-8 in Ellisville, fourth-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast blasted Coahoma 64-14 in Clarksdale, sixth-ranked Hinds smashed Mississippi Delta 42-21 in Raymond, Itawamba defeated East Central 35-13 in Decatur, and Copiah-Lincoln defeated Northeast Mississippi 33-14 in Booneville.

Eleventh-ranked Northwest Mississippi's game with Southwest Mississippi in Summit was cancelled in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

This Week's MACJC Action
In other Week 2 action around the MACJC sees Coahoma (0-1) hosting Hinds (1-0) in Clarksdale, Co-Lin (1-0) hosting Northwest Mississippi (0-0) in Wesson, East Central (0-1) hosting East Mississippi (1-0) in Decatur, Holmes (0-1) hosting Mississippi Gulf Coast (1-0) in Goodman, Itawamba (1-0) hosting Southwest Mississippi (0-0) in Fulton, and Jones County (1-0) hosting Northeast Mississippi (0-1) in Ellisville.

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 Leighton Cheramie will handle the broadcast. Air time for Thursday's broadcast is 6:30 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.

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