News release from JCJC Athletics
ELLISVILLE – The Jones County Junior College Bobcats have some pep in their step this week.
The Bobcats gained their first victory of the season with a 27-14 victory at Southwest Mississippi last week. It also was the first South Division contest of the season, giving JCJC a 1-2 overall record and 1-0 in the division.
Now, the Bobcats hope to build on that success when they entertain Pearl River at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the annual "Catfight" at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field. The game will air on www.jcjc.tv and WLAU-FM, 99.3, with Mark Easley and Chris Robinson on the call.
"A win is always good medicine, no doubt," JCJC head coach David Thornton said. "The kids played hard. And it was a good team win. Statistically, we controlled the game."
The Bobcats racked up 24 first downs and 402 yards of total offense, while limiting Southwest to nine first downs. But Thornton felt the team had opportunities to get even more points.
"We had a few struggles in the red zone. But I thought we moved the sticks well," he said. "We have moved the ball well in all three games, but it has not equated to a lot of yardage. It's been more of a methodical type of thing.
"But the thing we talked about was that we had some chances early on to get some scores and make it a different game, but we did not do that."
In last week's contest, the Bobcats were solid all the way around.
Quarterback Thad Miller was 23-of-38 for 173 yards and no interceptions. Running backs Jarkice Davis had 118 yards on 17 carries and DeSherrius Flowers had 80 yards on 17 attempts. Wide receiver Carlos Burse had six catches for 98 yards.
"You look at Thad's completion percentage and it's good, but we dropped so many balls," Thornton said. "Thad has played well and I've been extremely pleased with how he's played. He makes good decisions for us."
The Bobcats could add another quarterback into the mix.
Kemper County sophomore Kelvin Bourrage has impressed the coaches in practice and Thornton said he deserves a chance to play.
"Kelvin has had some great practices and is doing well," he said. "So, we have to get him involved more. We are pleased with both of our quarterbacks."
Another point of emphasis for the JCJC offense has been big plays or "explosions" as Thornton calls them. The Bobcats had several of those last week, including a 61-yard run by Davis late in the game.
"Jarkice had that long run and that's something we really harped – 'explosions,'" Thornton said. "An explosion is a 20-yard plus play and we had had a couple going into that game. I think we had six 'explosions' last week, which is our goal. It was nice to see some big plays."
Another impressive play last week came when freshman running back Stephen Cowan scored on a 5-yard carry, dragging several defenders into the end zone.
"I've watched Stephen do that same run maybe 50 times against our defense in practice last year and this year," Thornton said. "He is a quick kid and a hard worker. It was well deserved and that gives us another guy in the backfield that can help us. He just adds another weapon to the arsenal."
Defensively, linebacker Ty Hill had his third straight game with double-digit tackles, notching 10 stops vs. the Bears. End Javarious Tanner had six tackles, two quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery, tackle Arie Anderson had a sack and a forced fumble and safety Al'Dreecous Wilson had a huge, 70-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the contest.
"We got good pressure on the quarterback and had some hurries and some sacks," Thornton said. "We forced some turnovers that were really big. Al'Dreecous had that interception at a critical point in the game and the momentum was about to swing. That was the game-changer that sealed it.
"Ty coming through with 10 tackles was big. He has played well all year and is another great kid."
Placekicker Michael Godley was 2-of-3 on field goals and punter Patrick Ponder – despite playing with a broken jaw – averaged 37 yards on four kicks.
"Michael just pushed that first miss to the right, but he will have plenty of opportunities to make up for that," Thornton said. "His consistency is really good and Patrick has been solid with his punting all year, even though he has the broken jaw. He is just a tough kid and very resilient."
Pearl River enters the game at 1-2 overall, 0-1 in the division.
The Wildcats whipped Coahoma 32-6 to start the season. They then lost to Holmes 34-14 and opened division play with a 35-7 loss to Hinds last week.
"Pearl River will come up here ready to play," Thornton said. "It's a rivalry for many reasons. They are the closest junior college to us. We battle against these guys in recruiting, too.
"It should be a great game. It should be very competitive and you can throw the records out the door. It should be an intense game."
Pearl River has had its struggles on offense.
The Wildcats are averaging 211 yards per game, which ranks last in the league. Quarterback Mack Lowrie, a Boston College transfer, has completed 19-of-45 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns. Darious Leggett leads the team in rushing with almost 75 yards per game.
But Thornton said Pearl River has a capable offense.
"On offense, I know they are playing two quarterbacks and one is a transfer from Boston College," he said. "They have some talented skill players, too."
Pearl River's strength would be in its defensive line, which boasts four out-of-state players, including Noah Jones (6-4, 275) of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Maquadius Bain (6-5, 310) of Miami, Florida; Kendrick Hair (6-6, 300) of Orlando, Florida; and Blake McClain (6-4, 290) of Jacksonville, Florida.
"They are extremely big up front, defensively," Thornton said. "They have good linebacker and safety play, too. They have a lot of talent on that side of the ball.
"It will be a challenge for us and we will have to play hard. This game is important to us and I think our kids will respond and rise to the challenge."
The most important thing is the Bobcats have a chance to go to 2-0 in division play. Thornton said the Bobcats deserve credit for bouncing back with a strong effort last week after losing their first two games.
"We are 1-0 in the division and hope to keep that unblemished," he said. "The win over Southwest was a good one to build on and learn from and now we'll try to get another. I think last week showed some character from this team in the fact that we fought back from two losses and won the game."