BOONEVILLE, MISS. - The Pearl River Wildcats rained on the Northeast Tigers’ hopes of winning the home opener on September 4 by defeating the Tigers 38-10 at Keenum Stadium.
Keenum Stadium had a great crowd for the Tiger home opening game considering the weather conditions were less than ideal. The weather forecast was rain and more rain as the first quarter began. As the rain came down, the same was true for the Tigers, as Pearl River rained downed an aerial attack on the Tiger defense led by Wildcat QB Emil Jones.
“I am excited about how my young guys played again, and my hats off to Pearl River on how they played,” said Northeast first-year football coach Ricky Smither. “Our team will keep working hard in preparing for ICC”.
Pearl River (2-0) had no problems scoring through the air or on the ground as the first strike came early in the first quarter, when Jones plunged in the end zone for a 1-yard score. Jones would put the Wildcats on the board again with 45 seconds left in the quarter on a 67-yard pass to wide receiver Jerry Duncan giving Pearl River a 14-0 lead.
The Tigers’ (0-2) highlight of the night came on a punt return for a touchdown when Andre Taylor scampered 45 yards to the end zone to put NE on the score board at the 5:53 mark in the second quarter. The Tigers trailed 14-7.
That seven point margin would not last however, as Pearl River went back to the air attack, with a pass from Jones to wide-receiver Ray Chisholm with 2:09 left in the half giving the Wildcats a 21-7 lead at the end of the first half.
In the second half the rain continued to pour both from above the field and on the field as the Wildcats continued to dominate the game. The Wildcats added to their lead with a six-yard run from running back Ike Bowden with 8:59 left to play in the third quarter which pushed the lead to 28-7.
Northeast would later put three points on the board with a 41-yard field goal from Kicker Tyler Turner making the score 28-10 with 5:00 left in the third quarter.
The Tiger defense played tough throughout the game and would give NE a chance to bring the game into reach in the third quarter, when Safety Rodney McCraney, pulled in his first interception of the season. However, the Tigers failed to capitalize on the turnover and would have to punt the ball away.
Northeast punter Tyler Turner would get yet another booming punt off of 47-yards as he averaged (40.1 yards total) for the night.
A few plays later the Tigers defense would force yet another turnover. This time it was defensive lineman Jordi Vernor who intercepted the Wildcat pass attempt at the 35-second mark in the third quarter.
Tiger QB Emanuel Francis would take advantage of the opportunity created from the turnover on the Tigers next series.
On second-and-ten, Francis threw a touchdown pass to Daniel Berry (Tuscumbia, Ala.), which would have made the score 28-17 and would given the Tigers some momentum, but unfortunately, the touchdown would not count as off-setting penalties were called on the play forcing a replay of the down.
Francis would again throw what looked to be another TD pass to wide-receiver Chris Hill on the replayed down. Hill was ruled out of bounds by the officials voiding yet another potential touchdown for Northeast. The Tigers could never rebound from the missed opportunities.
Pearl River would eventually cap off the score with a 38-yard FG with 9:57 to play in the game and a touchdown run by Matt Williams leaving the final score Pearl River 38 and Northeast 10.
The Tigers next game will be on the road as they travel to Itawamba Community College next Thursday, September 11. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.