PRCC Wildcats capture fourth straight title

Published 6:18 am Sunday, November 12, 2006

WESSON – The contender is dead. Long live the king.

Pearl River Community College came from behind in the final minute Saturday night, pulling out a 21-20 win over homestanding Co-Lin for its fourth straight junior college state championship.

The win positions the Wildcats for a shot at their second national championship in three years, as head coach Tim Hatten’s team moves to 10-1 on the season and knocked off the South Division champion Wolves, which handed PRCC it’s only loss of the season back in September.

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When all the details are worked out, the Wildcats should travel to Texas in a few weeks to take on unbeaten Blinn College for the national title.

“We realize what a monumental task this is, winning four straight state titles,” Hatten, who is now 47-6 in five years at the helm of the Wildcats, said. “I don’t think this team is maybe as talented as some of the others we’ve had over the past few years, but that just says a lot about these kids. They never gave up and they worked hard.”

The Wildcats trailed 20-14 with less than a minute to play, before quarterback Carlton Hill hooked up with Demetrius Byrd on a 42-yard scoring strike with 44 seconds to play that stunned the home crowd and sent the PRCC side into a celebration.

“We were looking to make something happen, and we did,” Hill, who had three touchdown tosses for PRCC said. “It was a wild game.”

The Wildcats fell behind 14-0 quickly in the game, just as they did in the regular season match-up to Co-Lin, which won the South Division title.

Cedric Johnson hit Demoine Carroll on a 57-yard scoring strike for the Wolves, and Aaron Johns followed that with a 75-yard scoring sacamper to give Co-Lin the early lead.

But PRCC battled back, thanks to scoring passes from Hill to Seth Hayden from 14 yards out and to J.J. Smith from 81-yards, to knot the game at 14-14.

“We could have hung our heads and started pointing fingers when we got behind, but we didn’t,” Hatten added. “We just kept working.”

Co-Lin took the lead just before halftime on a 22-yard run by quarterback Alonzo Johnson, but it would be the last time the Wolves would score.

Nick Gunter missed the point after attempt for Co-Lin, and then missed a 43 yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game to give PRCC the win.

Co-Lin was in its first state championship game since 1991. The Wolves end the season at 9-2.

“They probably played better than we did, but our resilence and the attitude of our team came through in the end,” Hatten concluded. “We just wanted one more chance at the end, and we made it count.”