No. 5 Jones faces South Division showdown

Jones College football coach Steve Buckley leads his fifth-ranked Bobcats against Hinds...
Jones College football coach Steve Buckley leads his fifth-ranked Bobcats against Hinds Community College at 7 p.m. Thursday.(WDAM 7)
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 11:47 AM CDT
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From Jones College Sports Information Department

ELLISVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) - Fifth-ranked Jones College holds a 4-0 overall record at the start of the 2022 football season./

Hinds Community College has been half as fortunate, sporting 2-2 overall record.

But both the BObcats and Eagles boast unblemished South Division record in MIssissippi Association of Community College Conference, and that’s what has the attention of Jones Collège coach Steve Buckley.

“It’s like we told the team Sunday night, everything is from scratch,” Buckley said Tuesday morning. “We are tied with Hinds right now. That’s the bottom line.

“What you do with the North has no bearing on the end results as far as the state. The crossover with the North and South has a lot to do with national polls.”

The teams will square off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday game in Raymond.

The contest will air on WLAU-FM, 99.3, and SuperTalkLaurel.com, can be seen on hindsccsports.net. The game will be shown on a tape delay basis on JCJC.TV because of internet issues at the stadium.

The Bobcats defeated East Central Community College last week, 17-14. Jones also owns wins over Itawamba Community College (44-0), East MIssissippi Community College (42-28) and Copiah-Lincoln Community College (23-17 ).

The Eagles lost 20-3 to Northeast Community College to open the season and came up just short against No. 4 Northwest Community College in a 31-28 loss. But Hinds has beaten East Central Community College, 28-23, and Pearl River Community College,14-0, in its last two games.

Hinds relies on running back Jamarian Samuels on offense. The 5-foot-11 sophomore from Ocala, Fla., averages 107.5 yards per game, which is second in the nation behind JC’s Robert Henry.

Running back Jeffrey Pittman, a 5-foot-11 sophomore from Taylorsville, averages 49.3 yards per game.

Quarterback Ruben Lee II, a 6-foot-1 sophomore from Moss Point, has completed 50-of-95 passes for 501 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions.

On defense, lineman Jaylan Ware leads the team in tackles with 19 and has eight tackles for with 2 1/2 sacks. Lineman Da’Vonta Jackson has 18 tackles, 5 1/2 TFLs and two sacks and end Reginald Shepherd has 18 tackles, 3 1/2 TFLs and two sacks.

Buckley said Coach Larry Williams’ Eagles are one of the most experienced teams in the MACCC.

“From a standpoint of going against Hinds, they have an exceptional defense,” he said. “I think they start one freshman on their whole team – an outside receiver. They have a roster full of third-year guys. Larry and his staff have done a great job of recruiting.

“They are a physical, physical team and they have two outstanding running backs that can be physical and take it to the house from anywhere on the field.”

Buckley is also concerned about his team being away from home for just the second time this year.

“We are going on the road for our second trip,” he said. “We’ve done it once, so hopefully, we understand what it’s like to go on the road. It’s going to be a heckuva ballgame, I’m sure.”

The Bobcats had a hard-fought, three-point home win over East Central last week.

DK Metcalf had a crucial interception midway through the fourth quarter and Trent Howell (George County) clinched the game with a 29-yard run when the Bobcats faced a third and 20 in the final minutes.

Henry, a Lumberton High School product, continued his torrid pace on the ground, piling up 146 yards on 24 carries. He tops the nation with 649 yards, an average of 162.3 yards per game.

Buckley was pleased with the win, but says the Bobcats have plenty to work on.

“Getting to 4-0 was huge,” he said. “That game was a typical East Central/Jones game. They are a well-coached team and play extremely hard and that did not surprise me at any point in that game.

“We did not execute well enough and we had too many negative plays, especially on offense, I just thought we got behind the chains again for the second game in a row. There are not a whole lot of calls for third and 10-plus (yards to go). We have to clean that up and stay in front of the chains.”

A key factor in last week’s win was the kicking game.

Placekicker Yohan Thompson was 2-for-2 on extra points and made a 43-yard field goal. Punter Brody Pierce averaged 37.6 yards per kick on five punts.

“That turned out to be the deciding factor in the ballgame,” Buckley said of Thompson’s field goal. “We struggled a little bit in the kicking game with our kicker/punter early in the season, but we challenged them after the first two weeks and they’ve really improved – both kicking and punting. That’s something we work on every day.”

One more bright spot was the play of younger players, such as freshmen linebackers Jonathan Wiltz of Columbia High School and Raymond Collins. Wiltz led the team with nine tackles and Collins had five tackles,two tackles for loss, includi9ng 1 1/2 sacks.

“It’s like we say every week, the young kids just have got to keep coming,” Buckley said. “Four games into the season, you see a difference from the first game with the younger kids. Hopefully, in games five, six and seven, you will keep seeing that.

“It usually takes about half a season for the freshmen to grow up and get used to the speed of the game and basically develop. It’s really not physically, it’s more mentally.”

Also last week, sophomore quarterback Alan Follis of West Jones High School completed 12-of-18 passes for 149 yards and a score and sophomore wide receiver Ashton Nickelberry had three receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore linebacker Javarian Jenkins of Oak Grove High School and sophomore tackle Josh Belk each had six tackles.

The Bobcats will play their only Saturday regular season game of the season next weekend. Jones College will renew the annual “Cat Fight” when it hosts Pearl River Community College for Homecoming in a 3 p.m. kickoff on Oct. 8.

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