River smashes ECCC

            POPLARVILLE --- Pearl River’s Wildcats climaxed their 2013 homecoming day in grand style here Saturday, bombarding East Central’s Warriors with a lopsided 45-7 MACJC South Division decision to even their overall record to 4-4.
            PRCC, which improved to 2-3 in division play, amassed a season-high 469 yards of total offense (312 rush, 157 pass) and boasted two 100-yard rushers in Darrell Robinson and Scottie Merrill.
            Robinson, a freshman out of Noxubee County High, ran for 137 yards on 19 carries and touchdowns, while Merrill, a sophomore out of Picayune High, had a career-high 116 on 16 and a TD.
            ECCC dropped to 1-7 overall and remain winless in the division at 0-5.
            The River wraps its season Thursday at Hinds CC in Raymond, while East Central hosts playoff-bound and sixth-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast in Decatur in its finale.
            In addition, the Wildcats played turnover-free versus the Warriors, while PRCC defensive end Darrius Caldwell out of Mays High in Atlanta, Ga., intercepted a pass and returned it 27 yards to the visitors’ eight midway in the first quarter to set up the Wildcats first score of the afternoon.
            Caldwell’s pick came on ECCC’s second possession of the afternoon and set up a one-yard touchdown plunge by Detrick Goff of Hancock County High. Mark Moore of Hattiesburg High converted his first of six extra points in the game to put the Wildcats up 7-0 with 5:23 left in the opening period.
            Pearl River padded its lead four possessions later. Starting at midfield after Warrior punter Austin Franklin booted 28 yards from his own 23, Robinson burst for 34 yards on first down to the 17 with Merrill following with his first scoring run of the year. Moore’s PAT made it 14-0 with 37 seconds left in the first.
            PRCC put together a 12-play, 81-yard scoring drive on its first possession of the second quarter, converting a third and 11 via a pass interference penalty on the Warriors that moved things to the ECCC 42. Five snaps later, Robinson got his second TD with a one-yard plunge. Moore’s extra point made it 21-0 with 8:01 left in the half.
            After the Warriors went three and out, The River answered with a 10-play, 54-yard scoring drive. Five snaps into the drive, Shaun White out of Catholic High in Pensacola, Fla., converted a third and eight with a 21-yard completion to Austin Watts of Sumrall to push things to the ECCC 14. Five plays later, Goff scored from the one. Moore’s extra point made it 28-0 with 1:55 left in the half.
            East Central answered with a 10-play, 59-yard drive to the Wildcat 18, but Franklin was wide on his field goal attempt as the halftime gun sounded.
            Pearl River opened the second half with a six-play, 50-yard drive to the ECCC 25, but Goff was nailed for a minus-two on a fourth and one and the Warriors took over.
            Seven plays later, Franklin booted a 53-yard unreturned punt to the Wildcat three and PRCC responded with a 16-play drive to the Warrior five where Moore kicked a 22-yard field goal two plays into the final quarter to pump The River’s lead to 31-0 with 14:45 left in the game.
            Two series later, Pearl River cranked up at its own 48 and drove to the East Central two in six snaps where Goff plowed in for the score with 7:42 left. Moore’s PAT made it 38-0.
            After ECCC went three and out, reserve quarterback Will Gross out of Melrose High in Memphis, Tenn., hit a wide-open Charles Ducksworth of Mize High on a second and six with a 41-yard scoring pass in the end zone. Moore’s PAT made it 45-0 with 4:35 left.
            ECCC spoiled PRCC’s shutout aspirations on its ensuing possession. Starting at its own 25, quarterback Donnie Farmer completed three straight passes for a combined 40 yards to the Wildcat 35 where Martin Johnson carried it in from there for six. Franklin’s extra point ended the scoring with 2:39 remaining.
            Pearl River had 25 first downs to East Central’s 10, while the Warriors finished the afternoon with 212 yards of total offense (64 rush, 148 pass) and were penalized three times for 35 yards to the Wildcats’ six for 42.
            White finished the afternoon with a six-of-12 passing effort (no interceptions) for 70 yards, while Gross was six-of-seven for 87 and a score.
            Ducksworth led Wildcat receivers with 78 yards on five catches.
            Wildcat punter Brandon King of Florence High had two kicks for a 35-yard average --- both inside the 20-yard line.
            In MACJC North Division action last week, second-ranked and division champ East Mississippi smashed Northwest Mississippi 79-7 in Senatobia, 20th-ranked Itawamba secured the North runner-up spot with a 36-33 nail biter over Northeast Mississippi in Fulton, and Mississippi Delta smacked Coahoma 20-7 in Moorhead. In the South, division champ Jones County defeated Southwest Mississippi 31-10 in Summit and seventh-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast secured the division’s runner-up spot with a 21-7 victory over fifth-ranked and defending state champ Copiah-Lincoln in Perkinston. Sixteenth-ranked Hinds dropped Holmes 27-13 in Raymond in the only intra-divisional match up of the week.
            The first round of the MACJC state playoffs are set for Saturday, Nov. 2, with North champ East Mississippi hosting South No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast in Scooba and South champ Jones County hosting North No. 2 Itawamba in Ellisville. The first-round winners will face off in the state title bout Saturday, Nov. 9, with the state champ playing host in the sixth-annual Mississippi Bowl at Biloxi High School in Biloxi Sunday, Dec. 8, against a yet-to-be-decided opponent.
            In the final week of the MACJC regular season, Jones County (7-1, 5-1) hosts Northwest Mississippi (1-7, 1-5) in the only intra-divisional contest of the week; while in the North, East Mississippi (8-0, 5-0) hosts Itawamba (6-2, 4-1) in Scooba, Coahoma (1-7, 1-4) hosts Holmes (2-6, 2-3) in Clarksdale, and Northwest Mississippi (3-5, 3-2) hosts Mississippi Delta (2-6, 2-3) in Booneville. In the South, Copiah-Lincoln (6-2, 3-2) hosts Southwest Mississippi (2-6, 1-4) in Wesson, East Central (1-7, 0-5) hosts Mississippi Gulf Coast (7-1, 4-1) in Decatur, and Hinds (6-2, 3-2) hosts Pearl River (4-4, 2-3) in Raymond.

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