POPLARVILLE, Miss (WDAM) - The Seth Smith Era got off to a fast start Thursday night at Dobie Holden Stadium, when Jakob Greer and running back Chris Holifield Jr. hooked up on a 68-yard, catch-and-run touchdown on the game’s very first snap.
However, it didn’t take long for defending national champion Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to flex its muscle.
Ignited by a goal-line stand. MGCCC scored on its next three possessions to build a 21-6 lead on its way to an eventual 42-25 road victory to open the 2020 football season for both teams.
“They fought hard and I’m proud of them but obviously there’s no moral victories,” Smith said in a PRCC release. "We didn’t want to come out here and get beat 42-25, but there were a lot of positives.
“Like I told (the players), as long as we come back and we get better. If that team is the standard, we’re two scores away, so it’s important for us to get better and make sure we compete our tails off.”
PRCC (0-1) got within 21-13 at halftime, only to see the Bulldogs (1-0) push the lead to 35-13 in the third quarter.
The Wildcats got back within 35-19 by the end of the period before the teams swapped touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“We got exactly what we thought out of a Coach Smith-coached team, great effort,” MGCCC coach Jack Wright said in a release. “They came a thousand miles in one offseason. They’ll give some guys fits this year.”
If one game is any indication, so will the Bulldogs, who piled up 649 yards in total offense as they picked up their 17th consecutive victory.
The production included 344 yards on the ground, with running back Deondre House ushing for a career-high 220 yards, including a 90-yard touchdown.
“We got some chunk runs in the second half,” Wright said. "I think Pearl River did a good job of stopping us early. I’m not sure all the reasons before we watch the film, but credit the offensive line with really picking up their play in the run game in the second half.
“It just felt different in the second half, and we were getting some momentum. Our backs are dynamic when they get in the open field.”
After PRCC opened the game with a bang, the Wildcats came back and picked off quarterback Philip Short, driving to the MGCCC 6-yard line, where the Bulldogs held on fourth-and-1.
The Bulldogs followed by taking the lead for good on a 67-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Short to Petal High School product K.T. Hicks.
Former Hattiesburg High School standout Jadarrius Perkins came up with an interception on PRCC’s next possession, and MGCC cashed in on a 42-yard pass from Short to Jalen Bracey.
On MGCCC’s next possession, former Petal star quarterback DeCarlos Nicholson rotated into the game, and capped a drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs 21-6 lead.
PRCC also used two quarterback Thursday, and the second Wildcats' signal caller, Austin Davidson, sparked a PRCC scoring drive with a 32-yard pass to Stetson Moore. Will Young banged his way for 6 yards into the end zone to cap the drive as the Wildcats pulled with eight points.
The Bulldogs pulled away again with two touchdowns. The first came when House fumbled at the PRCC goal line with Bracey covering the ball in the end zone for the score.
The second came when House found a crease, deked his way around two would-be tackler and sped 90 yards for a 35-13 lead.
Davidson would add two touchdown runs on rushes of 10 yards and 3 yards, while MGCC would get a 4-yard scoring run from Picayune High School product Cam Thomas.
Davidson and Greer combined to throw for 282 yards.
Taylorsville High School product Latreal Jones led PRCC’s receivers with six receptions for 68 yards. Moore added six catches for 71 yards and Holifield finished the game with six catches for 80 yards.
Davidson was the Wildcats' leading rusher with 24 yards as the Bulldogs limited PRCC to 53 yards rushing.
Short threw for 215 yards for the Bulldogs, while Nicholson threw 90 yards and rushed for 95 yards on eight carries.
Hicks came up with four catches for 116 yards and a score.
PRCC will travel to Wesson to take on Copiah-Lincoln Community College at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.