BOONEVILLE, MISS. – Northeast's football team took the nation's eleventh-ranked team to the brink Thursday night in a game that featured the state's top two defenses.
However, the offenses took over in the Poplarville match-up with Northeast and Pearl River combining for 936 yards of total offense and 65 points.
After a scare in the second quarter (21-20), Pearl River expanded its lead in the second half and handed Northeast its second loss of the season 42-23.
Northeast freshman quarterback Clint Wilson (Olive Branch) found Dominique King (Tuscumbia, Ala.) on a 27-yard scoring strike with 8:40 left in the first half cutting the Wildcats lead to 21-20 but special teams let the Tigers down again as NE failed to convert on the extra point try and tie the contest at 21-all.
Pearl River (2-0) took advantage of the momentum from the missed kick and put the Tigers at an eight-point disadvantage at half when Rashod Henry found pay-dirt from three yards out with 46 seconds left in the second quarter.
Wilson, who finished the night with 215 yards through the air, gave the Tigers another shot at the Wildcats earlier in the first half. Northeast's freshman quarterback hooked up with Alex Carpenter (Biggersville) on a 51-yard touchdown that tied that game at 14-all after Tyler Turner (Horn Lake) made sure he booted this extra point through the uprights with 11:46 to go in the first half. Carpenter led all Tiger receivers with 82 yards while King finished with 77 markers on the night.
Northeast's tying touchdown was set up by the state's second-ranked defense when Patrick Grant (Columbus, Ga.) jumped on a Wildcat fumble at Tiger 17-yard-line snuffing out a potential scoring drive for Pearl River. Grant and safety LaDarrius Madden (Leighton, Ala.) both finished the game with seven solo tackles on the night for the Tigers.
Pearl River didn't let the tie last for long as the Wildcats went back on top just 36 seconds later when Henry broke loose on a 74-yard scamper two plays into Pearl River's ensuing drive.
Northeast answered on its next drive when Wilson helped piece together a 5-play, 59-yard drive that took 2:30 off the clock and led to King's 27-yard score. Jeremy Cannon (New Albany), who scored NE's first touchdown on the night, kept the Tiger drive alive with a pair of runs. Cannon finished the night with 155 yards on 17 carries with a nine-yard average and one TD.
In the second half, the Tigers mustered just three points after posting 20 points and over 250 yards of total offense in the first two quarters. Northeast cut the lead to five when Turner booted home a 29-yard field goal on the Tigers opening drive of the final half capping an 11-play, 38-yard drive for the Tigers.
Pearl River closed out the game in the fourth quarter with QB Emil Jones punching one touchdown in on the ground and tossing his second touchdown of the game to Desmond Ratliff for a 7-yard touchdown strike. Jones finished the night throwing for 313 yards completing 20-of-33 attempts for two touchdowns and one interception.
Northeast begins its march through the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division when it opens up league play with rival Itawamba Community College at Keenum Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 10. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and can be heard on The Shark 102.3 FM or via live streaming audio on the NEMCC Athletic website or at www.classicradiofm.com