News release from PRCC Athletics
POPLARVILLE – It is often said of rivalry games that one can throw out the records when they are played.
And that’s the case for Pearl River Community College this week as the Wildcats travel to Ellisville to face Jones County in the 85th Cat Fight.
Kickoff at Sim Cooley Field/Bobcat Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday.
Both teams are 1-2 overall, but the Bobcats are 1-0 in the South Division after last week’s 27-14 victory over Southwest, while PRCC is 0-1 in division play following a 35-7 defeat at the hands of Hinds last week at Dobie Holden Stadium.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re undefeated or if you haven’t won a game,” said Pearl River coach William Jones. “It’s always a competitive matchup.”
Jones pointed to some key injuries as a factor hindering the Wildcats at present. Starting quarterback Mack Lowrie is questionable after suffering bruised ribs near the end of the first half against Hinds. He sat out the second half of last week’s game.
However, the big injuries are on defense, where defensive tackle Kendrick Hair is sidelined, as well as linebacker Jason Funchess. Also, starting guard Keefa Nelson is doubtful after suffering an ankle injury against the Eagles.
“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us,” Jones said. “We’ve had some starters out, and some depth issues, but hopefully, we’ll start to get some of those guys back.”
The Bobcats are led on offense by quarterback Thad Miller, who has completed 63 of 104 passes for 547 yards. JCJC is well-balanced offensively, averaging 151 yards rushing and 182 yards passing per game.
“They’ve got a quarterback who plays really smart,” said Jones. “They’ve got a really good running game and some explosive receivers. On defense, they’re a little smaller than usual, but they run to the ball really well, and they’re solid in the kicking game.”
Pearl River has been led offensively by freshman Darious Leggett, who has rushed for 217 yards on 30 carries this season.
On defense, the stars for the Wildcats have been linebackers Corey Jones and Jarkeith Ruffin. Jones already has 40½ tackles so far this season, while Ruffin has 28½ tackles, along with three fumble recoveries and 2½ sacks.
“I think our guys were disappointed, knowing we didn’t play our best football in the first half (against Hinds),” Jones said. “You can’t give a good team easy points, and that’s what we did. We gave them easy points on mental errors.”
The series between Pearl River and Jones County is dead even, with each team winning 41 times, and there have been two ties. Last season, the Bobcats left Poplarville with a 21-14 victory despite giving up five turnovers.
By contrast, the Wildcats only committed one turnover, but it was a big one, as they lost a fumble in the end zone for a touchback. PRCC also came up dry on three other trips to the red zone, missing two field goals and a fourth-down attempt.
Pearl River has lost four straight in the series, with its last win coming in 2010, as 24-21 double-overtime victory at Ellisville.