Lawson Pratt’s five touchdowns lead Pearl River to dominant victory
Published 1:57 pm Friday, September 2, 2022
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Powered by a five-touchdown performance from Lawson Pratt (Tuscaloosa, Ala.; American Christian Academy), the Pearl River football team turned in a dominant 49-24 season-opening victory over Holmes Thursday night at Dobie Holden Stadium.
The victory extends Pearl River’s all-time series lead against the Bulldogs to 38-13-2.
“We knew early on that they would get some plays on us because we didn’t have any film on them,” Pearl River coach Seth Smith said. “Once our guys settled in, we played much better. The thing that I liked about tonight was that we just laid low and worked. We’re just out here working. I’m so proud of how our kids played and persevered.”
After the game, Smith talked about the play of his starting quarterback.
“I thought Lawson did really well tonight,” Smith said. “He only made one bad read but that’s going to happen when you throw the ball. For his first start, he did fantastic.”
Pearl River (1-0 overall) got the 2022 campaign started with a bang. Although the Wildcats began the drive at the 1-yard line, they marched all 99 yards in just four minutes for the touchdown. Pratt got the drive started by tossing a pass to the right side of the field to Marquis McCoy (Crestview, Fla) who carried it up the field for a 19-yard gain. Fullback Kevin Wilcox (Carriere; Pearl River Central) had one of the biggest plays of the drive as he burst through the middle of the field for 19 yards, putting the Wildcats into Holmes (0-1) territory. Moments later, Pratt found McCoy all alone in the middle of the field. McCoy caught the pass, spun around, and dashed straight up the field for a 26-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Holmes wasted no time evening up the score as they moved down the field and completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to make it a 7-7 ball game.
The Bulldogs capitalized on a Wildcat miscue on the next drive, intercepting a pass and eventually punching the ball into the endzone with a 2-yard run. The score put HCC ahead, 14-7.
PRCC’s stout defense forced an HCC punt to open the second quarter of the night. Sophomore wide receiver Antonio Gayden (Harvey, La.; West Jefferson) gave the Wildcats a boost of momentum as he fielded the punt and rushed down the field before being tackled at the 49-yard line. A few Wildcat plays later, Holifield Jr. was handed the ball on a reverse and dashed down the right side of the field. As a Bulldog was closing in on him, a quick shimmy sent the defender to the ground and allowed the receiver to scamper into the endzone for a 38-yard touchdown run and a 14-14 tie.
The Wildcats took the lead for good with 1:19 left in the first half of play. After forcing a three-and-out, Holmes stepped up to punt, but the snap went wide of the punter and bounced down the turf. Kam Norwood (Hattiesburg) tracked the ball down to turn possession to the Wildcats at the Bulldog 29-yard line. Pratt punched the ball into the endzone soon after with a quarterback sneak to make the score 21-14.
HCC again drove down the field in the third quarter but the Wildcat defense continued to hold strong to force the Bulldogs to kick a field goal.
On the ensuing Pearl River drive, the Wildcats struggled to move the ball but punter Corblin McGinn’s (Biloxi; D’Iberville) punt bounced at the 1-yard line and rolled out of bounds to pin HCC deep in its own territory.
On the third play of the HCC drive, the Bulldog quarterback tried to hit his running back in the flat but Alabama commit Justin Jefferson (Memphis, Tenn.; Barlett) jumped the route and picked off the pass to give Pearl River possession inside of the 20-yard line. Qavonte Swanigan (Foxworth; West Marrion) carried the ball down to the 6-yard line and a few plays later Pratt punched it in with another quarterback sneak to put Pearl River ahead 28-17.
Just two minutes into the fourth quarter, Pearl River found the endzone once again to extend its lead out to 35-17. Gayden beat his defender with a slant and Pratt hit him perfectly over the middle for the 6-yard touchdown.
HCC marched down the field on their next drive and eventually found itself nestled inside the PRCC 10-yard line. The Wildcat defense forced the Bulldogs into a fourth down attempt but Hosea Singleton (Bay St. Louis; Bay) swatted the pass out of the air to end the scoring opportunity and give the ball back to the Wildcats.
Pearl River’s next score was powered by Swanigan. The running back was stuffed on his first carry of the drive but didn’t let that bother him as on the very next play he broke a 57-yard run before being tackled two yards shy of the endzone. Pratt was able to pick up his third quarterback sneak touchdown of the night two plays later to give the Wildcats a big 42-17 advantage.
HCC got on the board for the last time with 6:26 left in the game, cutting the deficit to 42-24.
The Pearl River offense turned almost exclusively into runs once they got the ball back, draining nearly four minutes off the clock before cashing in with a 1-yard touchdown run by Nick Milsap (Raleigh; Oak Grove). The score was the last of the night as the Wildcats took the season opener 49-24.
BY THE NUMBERS
Pratt led the offense, finishing the game 18-for-27 for 152 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 28 yards and three touchdowns.
Swanigan finished with 121 yards on eight touches. Milsap was second, carrying the ball 14 times for 95 yards and a score.
McCoy led the receiving game with 45 yards and a touchdown on three catches. Gayden finished with three catches for 24 yards and a score.
Jefferson led the Wildcats defensively with nine tackles, one TFL and one interception. Norwood finished with seven tackles, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup.
Pearl River hits the road Thursday to take on Northeast. The contest is set to get underway at 6:30 p.m.
The Wildcats will once again livestream all games for free at PRCCMedia.com/gold. Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the “Pearl River CC” channel from their app. stores.
Games will also be available over the air in Pearl River County by tuning into 1320 AM and 106.9 FM., in Columbia on WCJU 102.7 FM and 1450 AM, and in Hattiesburg on WHSY 105.9 FM and 950 AM. The radio broadcast is also available at WRJWRadio.com and by downloading the WRJW app.