Annual catfight tonight

Published 8:04 pm Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pearl River Community College head coach Tim Hatten said this week that his Wildcats usually are at their best when their backs are against the wall.

His team will get a prime chance to test that theory tonight.

The Wildcats travel here to Jones Junior College to take on the third ranked and unbeaten Bobcats in a huge MACJC South Division game at 7 p.m., tonight.

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The game is the national juco game of the week, as 10th ranked PRCC brings a 4-1 mark overall and 1-1 in league play into the game against the Bobcats which stand 5-0 overall and 2-0 in league play.

After losing at home to arch-rival Gulf Coast last week in South Division play, a loss tonight would virtually eliminate the Wildcats from the race for the state playofffs with almost a month left in the season.

“We’re going up against a solid defensive football team,” Hatten said. “We can’t afford to drop passes or miss blocks if we’re going to be successful against them.”

The Bobcats of head coach Eddie Pierce are gunning for their second straight win over PRCC. In last year’s 33-28 homecoming loss to the Bobcats, the Wildcats were victimized by four costly turnovers, including two fourth-quarter interceptions.

Actually, Jones could just as easily be shooting for its third straight win over PRCC as in 2006, the Wildcats trailed the home-standing Bobcats 24-13 with under five minutes left, but rallied back with 15 unanswered points to hand their previously-undefeated hosts a heartbreaking 28-24 setback.

Wide receiver Demetrius Byrd, now a senior at LSU, snagged a 21-yard touchdown pass from Carlton Hill with 56 seconds left to ice the hard-fought victory. Hill, who now plays for the South Florida Bulls, entered the game under center to kick off the second half after playing wide receiver in PRCC’s previous six-and-a-half outings. Hill put on a stunning fourth-quarter show that wowed the capacity crowd witnessing the slugfest played on Sim Cooley Field.

The Bobcats seemingly never recovered from the shocking defeat as they managed to score a meager six points in their last two games and closed out the remainder of their season with back-to-back losses to Mississippi Gulf Coast (24-3)  and Copiah-Lincoln (16-3).

Last week, Jones quarterback Early James connected with wideout Anthony Jackson for a 99-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to lead the Bobcats to a 31-24 win over Hinds.

A second year starter at quarterback, James has been piloting the Bobcat offense very well thus far, throwing for 765 yards and seven touchdowns while also rushing for 201 yards as well. However, the offense would literally be nowhere without running back Daniel Borne who leads the NJCAA with 11 rushing touchdowns. He has rushed for 405 yards on 105 carries (80 yds/game). Jackson leads the Bobcats with 16 catches for 308 yards and three TD’s.

Borne was been named the MACJC’s Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in last week’s game at Hinds. Borne rushed 29 times for 82 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead the Bobcats to a 31-24 victory over the Eagles. He scored on two, 1-yard runs and a 12-yard run. He also had one pass reception for eight yards.

Borne, a 5-foot-11, 206-pound sophomore from Archbishop Shaw High School in New Orleans, leads the MACJC and is second in the nation in scoring this year with 11 touchdowns for 66 points.

“It’s Pearl River. It’s a big rivalry,” said Pierce of Thursday’s game. “It’s been a rivalry ever since I’ve known Jones County Junior College existed and I have been coming to games here since 1968. Our kids just have to get ready to play and put together four full quarters.”