PRCC Wildcat winning streak hits to 23.

POPLARVILLE — Defending NJCAA & MACJC champion Pearl River pumped its consecutive win streak to 23 straight with a 40-7 splattering of the SW Mississippi here Saturday to climax the Wildcats' Homecoming celebration in Dobie Holden Stadium. PHOTO (by Mitch Deaver): Pearl River's Ben McGilton (98) nails Southwest Mississippi's Jessie Burton in the Wildcats' 40-7 demolition of the Bears Saturday in Poplarville.

McGilton is a sophomore who prepped at Pearl River Central. The victory marked a record 23-straight for third-ranked PRCC, which remains undefeated at 4-0. The Wildcats, who have won back-to-back MACJC title, are the defending NJCAA national champs.

PRCC, ranked third in last week's NJCAA poll, remained undefeated at 4-0 overall and 4-0 in South Division play with the lopsided victory. SMCC, which defeated the Wildcats' upcoming opponent Mississippi Gulf Coast 34-31 in overtime Oct. 1 to hand the Bulldogs their first defeat of the season, evened its mark at 2-2 and 2-2.

The Wildcat defense dominated throughout the game, limiting the Bears to a meager 45 yards on the ground, while Southwest managed 107 yards via the pass with 61 of those yards coming on its only scoring drive late in the third period. Pearl River, on the other hand, finished the afternoon with 481 yards of total offense (226 rush, 255 pass) and produced a season-high 29 first downs. That mark tied the third-highest total in school history.

"It's great to get a win like this...particularly at Homecomingt," fourth-year PRCC head coach Tim Hatten said. "We weren't hitting on all cylinders in the first quarter, but seemed get things together after that. "Defensively, we couldn't have asked a better effort."

The Wildcats' first two possessions ended with lost fumbles — both by running back Mike McClendon who is leading the MACJC in rushing with 108.25 yards a game. He exited the game until the second half following his second miscue, but finished with a game-high 102 yards on 15 carries. Pearl River drove 56 yards in 11 plays on the game's opening series only to fumble it away at the Southwest two with 9:12 left in the scoreless first period. The Bears went three-and-out, but punter Brett Hicks booted an whopping 76-yard punt to the Wildcat 12 where the Wildcats fumbled it away three snaps later at the 19.

Two minutes later, Southwest's Tucker Hoge was wide on a 34-yard field goal attempt.

The Wildcats finally cashed in on their first possession of the second quarter. Starting at his own 30, All-American quarterback Jimmy Oliver — the NJCAA and Region 23 "Offensive Player of the Year" in 2004 — kept for 16 to midfield on first down, then zipped back-to-back passes to Larry Freeman to push things to the Southwest nine. Running back Seth Hayden then got back-to-back carries and scored from the one with 11:06 left before the half. Scott Hillery's extra point made it 7-0.

The Bears converted their first of only eight first downs on their next possession, but Hicks shanked a punt for a only 29 yards four plays later, while the visitors also drew a 15-yard penalty on the play to put the Wildcats in business at Southwest 35. Another Bear 15-yard miscue on first down pushed things to midfield where running back Gabe Fairman took over and carried six times for 40 yards over the next eight snaps to push things to the 10. Oliver targeted Hayden with a 10-yard TD pass with 4:24 left in the half to make it 13-0 after Hillery's PAT was no good.

After another 15-yard penalty on Southwest's initial play of its next possession pushed things back to the its own 15, the Bears mustered only 17 yards over its next six snaps and Hicks' 27-yard punt gave PRCC the final possession of the first half at its own 40. Oliver hit Ole Miss transfer Danny Bell, a defensive starter in the Wildcat secondary, with his first reception of the year for 22 yards to convert a third-and-10 to the Southwest 33 and followed with a completion to Demetrius Byrd for eight before keeping for three to the 25. Chris Wright's 11-yard reception moved things to the 11 where Oliver ran for another eight to the three. After a no-gain completion to Kyle Sellers, Hillery booted a 19-yard field goal as the halftime gun to put the Wildcats up 16-0.

A bad punt snap to Hicks on a fourth-and-15 at his own 12 on the Bears second possession of the second half resulted in more Wildcat points when linebacker George Leverette pounced on the loose ball in the end zone with 8:19 left in the third. Hillery's PAT made it 23-0 before the Bears mustered a six-play, 85-yard scoring drive for their only points of the afternoon.

Southwest quarterback Fred Jones went three-for-three on the drive, completing 22 and 9-yard passes to Quentrelle Green and a 30-yarder to Edgar Givens. Running back Tony McCray had runs of 13 and 11 yards with the latter going in for the score with 6:07 left in the period. Hoge's extra point was good.

On PRCC's ensuing series, McClendon carried four times for 21 yards and Oliver hit Freeman for 37 before the drive stalled at the four and Hillery kicked a 22-yard field goal on the first snap of the final quarter to make it 26-7.

Southwest answered with a three-and-out and the Wildcats cashed in again with a 12-play, 64-yard scoring drive. Oliver went six-for-seven on the series with a 15-yard completion to Brandon Fountain, a 22-yarder to Demetrius Byrd, and two to Hayden for 19 before targeting Freeman for a TD in the end zone from the three. Hillery's PAT made it 33-7 with 6:49 left.

On Southwest's next series, Marckus Crockett opened with a six-yard gainer and reserve QB Kemarte Brown kept for five before the Wildcat defense held the Bears for minus yardage on four of six plays and Hicks punted from his 15 to midfield.

Fairman got the call three of the next five snaps for 17 yards with his final carry good for a four-yard touchdown. Hayden had a nine-yard run in the drive, while Oliver's back up — Tim Kulikowski — kept for 22 yards to set up Fairman's TD. Hillery's PAT ended the scoring with 46 seconds left.

Besides McClendon, Fairman finished with 55 yards on nine carries, while Oliver had 24 on eight. Crockett led SMCC's rushers with 14 yards on six attempts, while Jones completed 10 of 15 for all of the Bears passing yardage.

Freeman led all receivers with 105 yards on seven catches, while Byrd had three for 34 and Hayden two for 29. Derwyn Cooley had two for 24 and Jacob Garber two for 15. Gant led Southwest with three receptions for 22 yards, while Green had two catches for 22 yards.

Hicks averaged 48.5 yards on seven punts, while Kulikowski punted twice for a 35.5-yard average. PRCC was penalized four times for 45 yards, while SMCC drew seven flags for 65 yards.

Defensively, Wildcat cornerback Shalamar Walker had a career day with eight tackles, two-and-a-half quarterback sacks, two tackles for loss, and one pass break up; while linebackers Chris Lowery and Marquis McBeath and six tackles each.

Pearl River travels to Mississippi Gulf Coast in Perkinston Thursday for a 7 p.m. South Division battle, while Southwest hosts North Division foe Itawamba Saturday for its Homecoming in Summit.

Elsewhere Around The MACJC
Two games were played last Thursday with Coahoma (1-3, 1-2) picking up its first win of the season via a 12-7 upset over Northwest Mississippi (1-3, 1-2) in Senatobia, while Hinds (2-2, 1-2) defeated Copiah-Lincoln (1-3, 1-2) 28-13 in Raymond. Other Saturday games saw Mississippi Gulf Coast (3-1, 3-1) defeat East Central (2-2, 1-2) in Decatur, undefeated Northeast Mississippi (4-0, 3-0) spoil Jones' (1-3, 1-2) Homecoming 23-7 in Ellisville, Holmes (1-3, 1-3 pick up its first win over East Mississippi (1-3, 1-2) 19-14 for its Homecoming in Goodman, and Itawamba (3-1, 3-1) defeat Mississippi Delta (2-2, 2-2) 34-10 amidst its Homecoming celebration in Fulton.  

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