Pearl River Tops Jones; Remains Unbeaten

POPLARVILLE — The defending NJCAA and MACJC champion Pearl River Wildcats pushed their consecutive win record to 22 straight with a 28-18 splattering of the arch-rival Jones Bobcats in the 75th-annual 'Cat Fight here Saturday in Bush-Young Stadium.

PRCC, tied for third in last week's NJCAA poll, remained undefeated at 3-0 overall and 3-0 in South Division play after the victory; while JCJC dropped to 1-2 and 1-2.

The Wildcat defense limited the Bobcats to a meager 25 yards on the ground, while Jones managed 219 aerial yards behind the rocket arm of Brett Hyatt. But it was 2004's NJCAA and Region 23 "Offensive Player of the Year" — PRCC quarterback Jimmy Oliver — who spelled the biggest difference, as the redshirt sophomore amassed 279 yards of individual total offense (170 pass, 109 rush) to push the Wildcats to the victory.

Oliver supplied Pearl River's last touchdown of the game late in the third quarter when he wowed the crowd with a spectacular sideline-to-sideline scramble-rush from the Bobcat 25 yard line. Scott Hillery's PAT made it 28-12 with 1:07 left in the period.

"What can you say about Jimmy," fourth-year PRCC head coach Tim Hatten said. "He's an incredible football player."

Jones salvaged another score midway into the final period when Oliver unleashed a pass from his own end zone and JCJC's Ellis Lankster picked it off at the 25 and sprinted in for the game's final touchdown. It appeared the Wildcats were going to march to a score on the first possession of the game when Mike McClendon returned the opening kickoff 33 to yards to the PRCC 43 and things were situated at the Jones 30 three plays later.

McClendon then ran for three only to fumble and the hosts recovered at the 27. PRCC scored on its next possession when Oliver engineered a six-play, 65-yard drive. Oliver scrambled for 15 on a second-and-15, then handed to running back Seth Hayden who romped for 47 yards to the Jones seven where Oliver zipped a TD pass to Brandon Fountain three snaps later. Hillery's extra point was no good, but Pearl River led 6-0 with 7:22 left in the first quarter.

JCJC went three and out and Michael Story-Swancey booted a 53-yard punt from his own 17, then a 10-yard penalty on the Wildcats set things up at the PRCC 17. Thirteen plays later, McClendon burst in from the one and Fountain's two-point conversion catch made it 14-0 with 14:43 left before halftime.

Oliver connected on four of seven throws in the drive, including a 20-yard completion to Demetrius Byrd to convert at third-and-10. Larry Freeman had a 19-yard catch, while McClendon had a 13-yarder. Oliver's 18-yard keeper pushed things to the Jones seven where a Bobcat pass interference penalty on a fourth-and-three set the stage for McClendon's one-yard TD run.

"We're fairly strong defensively and we can control the run effectively," Hatten added. "We didn't play a very good ball game overall. The first few series, we played fine, but after that I don't know what happened."

Later in the quarter, Story-Swancey booted a 27-yard field goal for Jones' first points of the night with 3:00 left before half; then Bobcat DB Tristan Jackson picked off Oliver on a fourth-and-eight at the JCJC 32. Hyatt completed a 28-yarder to Tim Holloway to the Wildcat 40, then kept for 13 more. His 14-yard completion to Jerrod Gaines pushed things to the PRCC 13 where Hyatt passed to Holloway for a one-yard TD with one second left on the clock. His two-point conversion pass fell incomplete as the half ended with Pearl River on top 14-9.

The Bobcats cut the Wildcats' lead to two on the opening possession of the second half when Story-Swancey booted a 40-yard field goal with 12:51 left in the third. Hyatt's 44-yard completion to Michael Thigpen from his own 31 highlighted the scoring drive. But Pearl River retaliated with am 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Oliver kept three times for 42 yards, while completing two passes to Freeman for 25 yards. Hayden got the final two carries, scoring from the one with 8:13 left in the period. Hillery's PAT made it 21-12.

Charles Brown recovered Tip Garner's fumble at the JCJC 46 four snaps into the Bobcats' ensuing possession, but Lankster picked off Oliver on a third-and-17 at the Jones 10 minutes later. But Oliver redeemed his miscue on the Wildcats next series and he practically single-handedly accounted for his team's final score. He kept for four straight snaps for 40 yards before throwing incomplete, then a 10-yard holding penalty moved things back to the Jones 25 where Oliver pulled off his razzle-dazzle scoring run on a third-and-14. Hillery's PAT made it 28-12.

Following Lankster's TD interception run, Wildcat DB Danny Bell, an Ole Miss transfer, ended the Bobcats final two possessions of the game with pass picks to bring his season total to four. Pearl River finished the game with 19 first downs to Jones' 14, but was penalized a whopping 15 times for 124 yards compared to the hosts' five flags for 27. The Wildcats finished with 440 yards of total offense (270 rush, 170 pass) with Oliver leading the way on the ground with 109 yards on eight carries. McClendon finished with 102 yards on 24 attempts, while Hayden had 55 yards on three. Freeman led PRCC's receiving corps with 89 yards on six catches, while Byrd had three for 41. The Bobcats amassed 244 yards of total offense (25 rush, 219 pass).

Pearl River returns to action Saturday when it hosts Southwest at 3 p.m. for its 2005 homecoming. Jones also celebrates its homecoming at Northeast Mississippi Saturday.

Elsewhere Around The MACJC

In last Thursday's games, East Mississippi (1-2 overall, 1-1 North Division) upset Northwest Mississippi (1-2, 1-1) 12-10 in Scooba, Northeast Mississippi (3-0, 3-0) pounded Mississippi Delta (2-1, 2-1) in Moorhead, Itawamba (2-1, 2-1) shut out Holmes (0-3, 0-3) in Fulton, and Hinds (1-2, 0-2) defeated non-division foe Coahoma (0-3, 0-2) 54-12 in Raymond. In other Saturday match ups, East Central (2-1 overall, 1-1 South Division) nipped Copiah-Lincoln (1-2, 1-1) 12-7 in Wesson, and Southwest Mississippi (2-1, 2-1) defeated Mississippi Gulf Coast (2-1, 2-1) a 34-31 overtime set back in Perkinston.


Pearl River quarterback Jimmy Oliver (6) rambles for a 25-yard touchdown in the Wildcats' 28-18 MACJC South Division victory in the 75th-annual 'Cat Fight Saturday in Ellisville. The win marked a record 22-straight for defending state and national champ PRCC. Oliver, a redshirt sophomore from East Marion, finished the night with 279 yards of individual total offense. The Wildcats host Southwest Saturday at 3 p.m. for their 2005 Homecoming bout. --- Photo By Mitch Deaver.


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