PRCC hopes to rebound against Delta after 49-6 blowout loss to East Miss

            POPLARVILLE --- The Pearl River Wildcat versus Mississippi Delta Trojan Juco football rivalry hits the gridiron for the 46th time here Thursday after both squads suffered lopsided setbacks in their 2013 season openers last week.
            Both squads fell by very similar margins at home last week with PRCC suffering 49-6 setback to No. 8-ranked East Mississippi, the reigning MACJC North Division champions; while MDCC fell 49-7 to No. 15-ranked Hinds in Moorhead.
            The River smacked Delta 44-29 last year in Moorhead in the two team’s first match up since 2007 when The River took a lopsided 50-10 victory in Poplarville.
            First-year Wildcat head coach William Jones tangles with first-year Trojan head coach Jeff Tatum, who guided his Garden City Broncbusters to a Mississippi Bowl victory over MACJC state champion Copiah-Lincoln last season.
            Like Jones, Tatum is no stranger to MACJC football, as he broke into the coaching field at his alma mater Mississippi Delta in the late 1980s. Jones has been affiiliated with the Mississippi league since 2001 one when he was hired as PRCC’s defensive coordinator by then-new head coach Scott Maxfield and was retained by long-time mentor Tim Hatten after Maxfield departed The River for Blinn (Tex.) in early 2002.
            Jones spent seven years in Poplarville as DC before splitting for East Mississippi in Scooba after his Wildcat coaching counterpart Buddy Stephens was hired for the head job in 2008. The Stephens-Jones union saw unprecedented success, winning five straight MACJC North Division titles, two MACJC state titles (2009, 2011), including an NJCAA national championship in 2011.
            “We’ve worked all week towards rebounding from last week’s loss,” said Jones. “East Mississippi hammered us pretty good, but regardless of the scoreboard, we saw some positive things from that game.
            “We’ve just got to get better in all phases of the game.”
            The Wildcats committed four turnovers in their loss to the Lions --- two of which resulted in points.
            The first TO, a muffed punt, gave EMCC ideal field position at The River 16; while another was a 100-year interception return for a TD in the final seconds of the first half to give the Lions a 35-0 advantage at the intermission.
            The Trojans gave up a monstrous 462 yards of total offense (374 rush, 88 pass) in last week’s season-opening loss, while the Wildcats’ total versus the Lions was 396 (146 rush, 249 pass).
 
The PRCC-MDCC Rivalry
            The Wildcat-Trojan rivalry dates back to the 1920s with Pearl River holding a 32-12-2 edge. The two schools even shared a tri-state championship with Clarke College in 1928 back when MDCC was called Sunflower Junior College.
            Pearl River won 1999’s match-up in Poplarville 24-8, putting an end to four straight wins by Mississippi Delta. PRCC lost 19-10 loss in Moorhead in 1998, while the Trojans won every year from 1993 through 1995. The River won 42-13 in 1992.
            During the 1990s, the two teams played six times with MDCC winning four, while the 1980s saw PRCC with a 5-1 winning edge over the Trojans. In 1981, Pearl River played Mississippi Delta twice. The Wildcats won 27-14 in the season opener, then repeated their effort in the first round of the state playoffs winning 19-7. PRCC fell 31-6 to Holmes in the state championship game that year.
            The 1970s saw a 5-1-1 mark the Wildcats’ way. In 1973, Pearl River trimmed the Trojans 17-14 in Moorhead during the regular season, but Delta got payback in the state title game in Poplarville, winning 21-17.
            In the two teams’ 2000 meeting, Pearl River took a 16-6 victory via a two-TD performance by defensive back Jesse Parker; marking the first season-opening win for the Wildcats since 1997.
            The Wildcats took a hard-fought 39-14 victory over the Trojans in PRCC’s national and state championship season in 2004, a lopsided 51-14 win in 2005, a 43-6 victory in 2006 in Moorhead, and a 50-10 win in the last meeting in 2007.
            Mississippi Delta has won four state titles - 1928, 1972, 1973, 1993 - including an NJCAA national championship in 1993, while Pearl River boasts an unprecedented 19 state titles (including four straight from 2003 through 2006 under Hatten’s guidance) and national championships in 1961 and 2004.
 
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE MACJC
            In other season openers around the MACJC last week, Southwest Mississippi defeated Northwest Mississippi 19-15 in Senatobia, ninth-ranked and reigning state champ Copiah-Lincoln dropped Northeast Mississippi 29-20 in Wesson, Jones County bombed Holmes 54-14 in Goodman, 16th-ranked Itawamba smacked East Central 40-7 in Fulton, and top-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast blew out Coahoma 63-14 in Perkinston.
 
THIS WEEK IN THE MACJC
            Other Thursday games around the MACJC includes Coahoma (0-1) hosting Hinds (1-0) in Clarksdale, Northwest Mississippi (0-1) hosting Copiah-Lincoln (0-1) in Senatobia, East Mississippi (0-1) hosting East Central (0-1) in Scooba, Mississippi Gulf Coast (0-1) hosting Holmes (0-1) in Perkinston, Southwest Mississippi (0-1) hosting Itawamba in Summit, and Northeast Mississippi (0-1) hosting Jones County (0-1) in Booneville.
 
LISTEN TO THE WILDCATS
            All Pearl River games are broadcast live on WFMM-FM (96.7) in Hattiesburg, WFFF-FM (96.7) in Columbia, and WRJW-AM (1320) in Picayune. Long-time play-by-play announcer Jason Baker, color commentator Clay Sweet, and sideline reporter Leighton Cheramie will handle the broadcast. Air time for Thursday’s broadcast is 6:30 p.m. You may also watch (via live stream) and listen to the Wildcats over the world wide web by logging on to www.prcc.edu. Click on the icon at the bottom left of the screen, and follow the instructions.
 

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