In football, it is often the little things that make the difference between victory and defeat.
Thursday night against Itawamba, Pearl River Community College had just a few too many little mistakes that cost the Wildcats in a thrilling 38-36 setback in non-division play at Eaton Field on the ICC campus.
PRCC dropped to 2-3 overall, while the Indians improved to 2-3 overall.
“It was a great effort,” said PRCC coach Ted Egger. “We made some mistakes in key situations, and we have to capitalize when we have the opportunity.”
The Wildcats once again had an impressive offensive performance, putting up 491 yards, including 281 on the ground.
But Pearl River gave up two interceptions, one of them leading to a touchdown in the fourth quarter that put ICC ahead to stay.
The Wildcats also committed 13 penalties for 120 yards, they were 0 for 11 on third downs and they missed a PAT kick, plus the subsequent two-point pass with 1:39 to play in the game that allowed the Indians to hang on.
“Being in the red zone and not being able to finish; that hurt us,” said Wildcat quarterback Markevion Quinn. “We had some great opportunities, but we just didn’t quite get it done.”
Quinn had another excellent outing for the Wildcats. The freshman from Ruleville ran 22 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and was 7 of 15 passing for 150 yards and two scoring passes.
However, Quinn was bested by Itawamba sophomore quarterback Dan Ellington who completed 17 of 26 passes for 253 yards and three TDs, and ran for 103 yards on 23 carries and added a rushing score.
“He’s a real elusive guy, and he made game-changing plays for them,” said PRCC safety Zhaunte McElroy of Forrest County AHS. “The fourth quarter was the best quarter for him. He stepped up and made plays for them.”
The Wildcats scored first in what would prove to be a see-saw affair, getting a 24-yard field goal by Mark Johnson (Bay HIgh) after stopping the Indians on fourth down on the initial drive of the game.
But the Indians scored a touchdown on the next possession to take a 7-3 lead that would hold up until just 10 seconds remained in the half. PRCC recovered a muffed punt near midfield, and Quinn ran in from 2 yards out to give the Wildcats a 10-7 halftime advantage.
The second half, though, was when the two offenses started trading haymakers. Itawamba regained the lead early in the third quarter, but the Wildcats scored two touchdowns in a 21-second span to take a 24-14 lead.
Quinn scored on an 8-yard run, capping a six-play, 81-yard drive. Then sophomore David Salser (Pearl River Central) recovered an Itawamba fumble at midfield on the first play after the kickoff, and on the first play Quinn found Malcom Staten (Hancock) for a 50-yard scoring pass.
“Being at Pearl River for a while, I’ve become familiar with the process,” said Staten, a redshirt sophomore who caught four passes for 102 yards. “I just feel like it was my time. We’ve got a young quarterback, so there were some jitters, but we kept fighting and did a lot of good things.”
Itawamba came back with 17 unanswered points, taking a 31-24 lead, but Quinn got his third rushing score of the night midway through the final period on a 1-yard run.
However, Johnson’s PAT kick was no good, and Ellington’s 5-yard run with 3:19 to play gave Itawamba a 38-30 lead.
The Wildcats didn’t quit, though, and Quinn drove PRCC 72 yards on just five plays, including a 37-yard pitch-and-run to Staten and a 13-yard burst by redshirt freshman Caleb Batie (West Marion), who finished with 142 yards on 17 carries.
Quinn got the score on a 17-yard pass to K.J. Breland (FCAHS). Quinn appeared to have sophomore Kelvin Lovitt (Callaway) open on a tight-end screen pass on the two-point conversion attempt, but the ball was batted away.
Pearl River wasn’t quite done yet. Batie recovered the onside kick at the Wildcat 40-yard line, giving the Wildcats a chance with 1:29 to play and two timeouts remaining.
Quinn ran for 18 yards and Batie for 8 to set PRCC up for a third and 1 at the Indian 33. But a false start moved the ball back five yards, then Batie lost 2 yards and Quinn was sacked for a 7-yard loss on the fourth-down attempt.
“We’ll give the kids a couple of days off, then come back Sunday and start getting ready for the next game,” said Egger. “I like this football team. These kids play hard and they don’t quit. We just have to correct some of the mistakes that are keeping us from reaching our potential.”
The Wildcats will get a couple of extra days to work and get rested next week, as they play the first of four Saturday games to complete the season on Oct. 7 at Southwest Mississippi. Kickoff at Summit is scheduled for 5 p.m.
PRCC GAME SUMMARY
Thursday at Fulton
Itawamba 38, Pearl River 36
Pearl River 3-7-14-12 -- 36
Itawamba 7-0-10-21 -- 38
PR – Mark Johnson 24 field goal, 8:12 (9 plays/60 yards/4:38 possession).
IT – Dan Ellington 28 pass to Malik Honeycutt (Caleb Comer kick), 6:32 (5/71/1:40).
PR – Markevion Quinn 2 run (Johnson kick), 0:10 (5/48/0:50).
IT – Ellington 36 pass to Christian Saulsberry (Comer kick), 9:39 (2/38/0:45).
PR – Quinn 8 run (Johnson kick), 7:40 (6/81/1:59).
PR – Quinn 50 pass to Malcom Staten (Johnson kick), 7:29 (1/50/0:10).
IT – Comer 39 field goal, 4:01 (7/52/3:18).
IT – De’Sean Dinkins 1 run (Comer kick), 13:12 (8/65/3:30).
IT – Ellington 10 pass to Terry Williams (Comer kick), 11:09 (5/55/1:39).
PR – Quinn 1 run (kick failed), 7:44 (8/51/3:25).
IT – Ellington 5 run (Comer kick), 3:19 (7/50/4:25).
PR – Quinn 24 pass to K.J. Breland (pass failed), 1:32 (5/72/1:47).
First downs 22 24
Total net yards 491 445
Rushes-yards 50-281 43-192
Passing yards 210 253
Comp-Att-Int 9-21-2 17-26-0
Fumbles-lost 4-0 4-2
Penalties-yards 13-120 9-76
Punts-yards (avg.) 6-191 (31.8) 4-138 (34.5)
Sacks-yards 0-0 3-23
Third down 0-11 6-12
Fourth down 0-1 0-1
Time of possession 28:44 31:16
Pearl River – Caleb Batie 17-142; Markevion Quinn 22-117, Ron Thompson 7-36, Jesse Pernell 2-2, Justin Agner 2-(-16). Itawamba – Dan Ellington 23-103, Kadarius Forside 11-74, De’Sean Dinkins 5-14, Kegan Huddleston 1-2, Christian Saulsberry 2-1, Team 1-(-2).
Pearl River – Markevion Quinn 7-15-1-150, Justin Agner 2-6-1-60. Itawamba – Dan Ellington 17-26-0-253.
Pearl River – Malcom Staten 4-102, K.J. Breland 2-68, Shakeenen West 1-18, Ron Thompson 1-13, Heath Greenlee 1-9; Itawamba – Terry Williams 7-54, Malik Honeycutt 3-51, Christian Saulsberry 2-51, Michael Reed 2-50, Chris Long 2-25, Jamel Thomas 1-22.
(Photos courtesy of Juco Weekly)
Pearl River quarterback Markevion Quinn makes a pair of Itawamba defenders miss on a running play during Thursday’s game at Fulton.
Pearl River defensive backs Jordan Mims (3) and Zhaunte McElroy (4) go up to knock down a pass as Cameron Shoemo (8) backs up the play during Thursday’s game at Itawamba.
Pearl River wide receiver K.J. Breland cradles a touchdown pass against an Itawamba defender late in Thursday’s game at Fulton.