PRCC back in action tonight

Published 4:37 pm Friday, October 19, 2007

Thanks to nationally-ranked Jones County, four-time defending MACJC football champion Pearl River will be playing for nothing other than pride when it visits Southwest Mississippi in Summit Thursday.

The Wildcats, who dropped from fifth to 13th in the latest NJCAA poll via its 33-28 loss to the fifth-ranked Bobcats last Saturday, saw their post-season playoff aspirations vanish. The setback resulted in the first time PRCC missed out on post-season play since 2002 and sixth-year head coach Tim Hatten’s first loss to JCJC.

Hatten says it’s gut check time for his team which dropped to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in division play.

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“We’ll see how much intestinal fortitude we’ve got now,” he said. “We have nothing to play for but pride at this point and we’re going up against a pretty athletic football team that still has a chance to make into the post season.

“Going in, I feel good about it. We had an excellent practice on Monday. We just went out there and had fun.”

The Wildcats’ four turnovers — two fumbles and two interceptions — in their Jones game proved deadly.

“Any time you score 28 points in a game, you should win no matter who you’re playing,” said Hatten, who is now 52-9 overall since arriving on the PRCC campus in 2002. “Plus, the turnover situation played right into their hands and they wound up converting nine of 17 third downs.

“Jones even wound up running 75 offensive snaps to our 53, but regardless, we could’ve still won the game.”

Pearl River also blocked a field goal, two extra points, and two punts, including one by Frank Newsome III who recovered his block in the end zone for a game-tying TD (14-14) in the last minute of the first half.

We can’t play like we did last week and expect to win over in Summit,” Hatten continued. “They’ve struggled this year, but beat Hinds (21-14) last week and lost to Jones (25-19) the week before off an interception return at the very end.”

The Bears, 3-4 overall and 2-2 in division play, opened the year with a 24-21 home loss to now-15th-ranked Itawamba then rebounded with a 12-7 home victory over East Mississippi before arch-rival Copiah-Lincoln posted a 21-0 road shellacking in Wesson to open their division schedule. Southwest followed with a hard-fought 25-21 home win over league rival East Central before losing the non-division foe Mississippi Delta 44-42 in overtime.

“Southwest runs around well and has the athletes to give your defense fits,” Hatten said. “We need to play mistake-free.”