ELLISVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) - The Collins Connection came through, big time, for the Jones College Bobcats Thursday night.
Brothers Markel and Hershey McLaurin were among the 43 new faces on the Jones 2020 football roster, and each made major contributions on opposite sides of the football as Jones steadily away to a 34-5 victory over East Central Community College at Bobcat Stadium.
Markel McLaurin caught six passes for 120 yards and a touchdown and his younger brother, Hershey, returned a fumble 27 yards for a score and came up with one the defense’s three interceptions as the Bobcats opened the 2020 football season by defeating the Warriors for a fourth consecutive year.
“Great kids, first of all,” Jones head football coach Steve Buckley said of the McLaurins. "Hershey’s a big personality and is going to be a tremendous free safety for the next four, five, six, seven, eight years, whatever, however long.
“Markel’s a playmaker for us, and we’ve got to get the ball in his hands.”
The McLaurins were not the only newcomers to show out well for Jones (1-0).
In his first start for the Bobcats, quarterback Quaterius Hawkins completed 16-of-25 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought our quarterback played outstanding,” Buckley said. “We dropped some balls early, but he was on the money all night. Thought he extended some plays with his legs and just did some really good things.”
As did first-year running back Romal Webb, who churned his way to 102 net yards rushing that included touchdown runs of 4 yards and 50 yards.
Veteran receiver Bud Tolbert matched McLaurin with six catches that were good for 95 yards
All told, the Bobcats rolled up 484 yards total offense.
“I was pleased with our offense,” Buckley said. “If there was a negative, it was we didn’t always finish drives, but we executed pretty darn well and moved the ball well with the run and the pass. Yeah, I’m pleased.”
East Central (0-1) also moved the ball well at times, picking up 370 yards total offense,
Quarterbacks Holman Edwards and Deonte Yarbrough combined for 280 yards. Receiver John Hilbert grabbed seven passes for 139 yards, while running mate Juke Bonner made four catches for 80 yards.
But the two quarterbacks combine to throw three interceptions and the Warriors also lost two fumbles.
East Central had scoring chances, but saw an opening-drive touchdown wiped from the scoreboard by penalty and a fourth-quarter drive to the Jones 2-yard line end on an end-zone interception by defensive back Travor Randle.
Defensive back Ty Rawls came up with the other Jones' interception returning it 39 yards.
“Defensively, we gave up some yardage, but we didn’t give up many points,” Buckley said.
East Central’s standout place-kicker Robens Beauplain went 1-of-2 on field-goal attempts, including a 33-yarder that gave the Warriors a short-lived 3-0 lead.
Jones answered immediately, mounting a 76-yard drive that Webb capped with his 4-yard run.
Gavin Gaudin booted the first of two field goals, a 42-yarder, early in the second quarter for a 10-3 lead, and Jones all but put the game away with two touchdowns in a 55-second span.
The Bobcats needed just two plays to go up 17-3. A 19-yard run by Hawkins put Jones at midfield before Webb went around left end for a 50-yard score.
Two plays into East Central’s possession, John Hilbert was hit and lost the football, with Hershey McLaurin scooping up the loose ball and returning it 27 yards for a score.
Jones opened the second half with a three-play, 65-yard drive that Markel McLaurin finished off with a 49-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
East Central picked up two points on safety when the Bobcats recovered their own fumble in the end zone and Gaudin rounded out the scoring with a 25-yard field in the third quarter.
Jones has an open date next week before returning to play at Hinds Community College.