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Top-ranked Jones renews ‘Catfight’ at Pearl River Thursday

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 10:13 AM CDT
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Jones College Sports Information

ELLISVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) – Jones College will play its first game as the No. 1 team in the country this week.

But Bobcat head coach Steve Buckley declined to buy into the hype, saying a review of the Bobcats’ 55-6 win over Southwest Mississippi Community College offered a stark reminder of the work still needed.

“We addressed that Sunday night,” he said. “I told the team there was a possibility that when the polls came out that we could be No. 1. I told them I didn’t want to hear a word about it, and I could care less if we were No. 1 or No. 21 right now.

“When we learn to play as 11 guys playing as one, then we can talk about how good we are. We had 37 negative plays the other day where one guy did not do his job. That’s improvement from the week before where we had 61, but until we correct that, we are not in the category of a good football team, in my opinion.”

Jones (6-0, 3-0 Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference’s South Division) visits Pearl River for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Thursday at Dobie Holden Stadium in the 91st “Catfight.” The Bobcats lead the series 46-42-2.

This week’s game will air on JCJC.TV, WLAU-FM, 99.3 and SuperTalkLaurel.com with Mark Easley and Luke Johnson on the call.

“We improved last week,” Buckley said. “The week before, we had 61 plays where somebody on the field didn’t do his job. We basically cut that in half last week, but we still had too many mistakes.

“That’s kind of our motto: Do your job. You don’t have to do anything extra because we are good enough at every position that if you will just do your job and focus, we will be fine.”

Pearl River (2-4, 0-3 MACCC South), under second-year head coach Seth Smith, is coming off its best game of the year, a 55-7 victory over Holmes Community College.

Buckley said records are meaningless this week.

“They will be ready to play,” he said. “I think they found their identity of what they want to be. Sometimes, when you take over a program it takes you a little while to figure out who you are and what you want to be. But I think they found it last week.

“We are going to play a physical team that gets after you. We challenged our kids Sunday that we are playing on a short week, so it’s a quick turnaround. You have to do your job starting Sunday of this week of taking care of your body, getting rest, hydrating – all of the things that we talk about every day. It’s most important on a short week.”

In PRCC’s win over Holmes, running back Tony Brown had 10 carries for a school-record 229 yards and scored four touchdowns. The Wildcats had 534 yards rushing in the game.

“Pearl River is a really good football team and they’ve got athletes,” Buckley said. “They can do some things, blitz-wise, that can cause problems if you are not prepared for it. Offensively, they have big play receivers outside. They don’t mind taking shots at you, so we have got to be ready to play.

“They do a great job of running the ball and they will lull you to sleep and hit you up top with a pass. You have to have gap integrity in everything you do. You have to cover them because they will take the shot.”

In the Bobcats’ win last week, Markel McLaurin of Collins had three interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. He was named the MACCC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.

“Markel just elevated his game,” Buckley said. “He’s coming off a broken hand and missed a couple of games with that. Obviously, he showed the kind of player he is and is going to be.”

Jones limited Southwest to only eight first downs, 180 yards of offense and 47 plays from scrimmage. Buckley said that was a major improvement over the previous week when Hinds ran 78 plays and had 23 first downs.

“I thought the defense flipped the script from the week before,” he said. “They only played 47 snaps. We did some things that we worked on and the defense got off the field. It was a good win and a good day for everybody.”

Offensively, La’Damian Webb was solid again with 22 rushes for 143 yards and three touchdowns. It was his sixth straight game with over 100 yards rushing and he leads the NJCAA with 888 rushing yards.

Webb also has 11 rushing touchdowns, which ranks second nationally.

Quarterback Quaterius Hawkins completed 12-of-18 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns and wide receiver Ashton Nickelberry had five catches for 34 yards.

Kendall Coleman and Rasaiah Ruffin of Oak Grove High School each had a touchdown catch.

Jones ended the game with 25 first downs and 426 yards of total offense.

“I thought we protected well, threw the ball well and executed the running game,” Buckley said. “When you do those things, you’ve got a chance to score some points.”

The Bobcats will play their final home regular season game next week, hosting Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21.

Pearl River goes to Southwest Mississippi Community College on Oct. 23.

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