By Shawn Wansley, JCJC Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – The top matchup in the NJCAA will take place here Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field.
The 10th-ranked Jones County Junior College Bobcats will host the 4th-ranked Hinds Community College Eagles at 2 p.m. The game, which will culminate Homecoming activities on campus, will air on www.jcjc.tv and the official JCJC Facebook page on Facebook Live with Mark Easley and Chris Robinson on the call.
“I’ve told the team for two weeks, the better we become, the bigger the next game,” JCJC head coach Steve Buckley said. “I think they understand what I’m talking about now. It should be a huge ballgame for us. It should be a great atmosphere at our stadium with Homecoming and playing a very good football team.”
JCJC, winners of six straight, enters the game at 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the MACJC South Division. JCJC has outscored its opponents 281-94 during its current winning streak – an average score of 46.8-15.7.
Hinds is 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the division. The Eagles have played one less game because their opener at Northwest was suspended because of bad weather at the end of the third quarter with the game tied at 0-0.
If JCJC wins, the Bobcats will take over first place and can capture the division outright next week with a win at No. 15 Mississippi Gulf Coast. If the Bobcats win and Pearl River upsets MGCCC this weekend, JCJC clinches first place.
If Hinds wins, the Eagles will be the division champion and second place will be decided next week when JCJC plays MGCCC.
Hinds owns wins over Itawamba (35-31), Southwest (40-14), Pearl River (42-16), MGCCC (26-21), Copiah-Lincoln (16-15) and East Central (34-17).
The Eagles are coached by Larry Williams, who took over for longtime head coach Gene Murphy. Murphy retired in August just before the start of the season.
Hinds utilizes two quarterbacks – Tylan Morton (6-4, 200), a freshman from Griffin, Georgia, and Eric Clark (6-0, 177), a freshman from Kemper County.
The Eagles boast some of the top receivers in the nation, including Mississippi State commit Stephen Guidry (6-4, 190), a sophomore from New Roads, Louisiana. Other top wideouts are Ra’Meik Wallace (6-2, 205), a sophomore from Wayne County, and DeMichael Harris (5-10, 180), a sophomore from Vicksburg St. Aloysius.
Devante Scott (5-11, 185), a sophomore from Kemper County, and D.J. Sims (5-9, 185), a sophomore from Wayne County, are the leading rushers.
“They have a lot of explosive weapons on offense,” Buckley said. “They play two quarterbacks and their receivers are phenomenal, so we really have to be sound in the back end with what we are doing. Guidry is a very dynamic player.”
Defensively, the Eagles are led by Ivin White (6-2, 240), a freshman end from Brandon. White has 14 tackles for loss, which leads the state, and five quarterback sacks. Defensive back Byron Dewayne Galvin (5-11, 200), a sophomore from Warren Central, has an MACJC-leading five interceptions and safety Deveon Ball (6-3, 208), a sophomore from Noxubee County, has four interceptions.
“Defensively, Hinds is very sound,” Buckley said. “Coach Williams has been doing this a long time and he knows football. They will have a great gameplan for us and we’ve got to execute what we’ve got called.”
JCJC is coming off a big, 52-31 victory at Pearl River.
The Bobcats piled up 605 yards of offense. Wide receiver Kendall Parham (Oak Grove) had six catches for 173 yards and touchdown catches of 93 and 78 yards. Quarterback Chris Weaver (Bay Minette, Alabama) was 15 of 18 through the air for 271 yards and also rushed for 53 yards.
Quarterback Detric Hawthorn (Collins) was 5 of 6 passing for 135 yards and ran for 22 more.
“We had seven or eight explosive plays on offense, which jumpstarted us and put points on the board,” Buckley said. “I thought Kendall did a great job with the ball in his hands. I thought the quarterbacks did a great job of spinning things outside to them when the box was loaded.
“Offensively, we were very consistent with sustained drives and had big plays. We ran the ball well at times. Both quarterbacks played very well as far as managing the game.”
On defense, back Fred Peters (Columbia) and linebacker Derric Hawthorn (Collins) each had 8 tackles. Tackle De’Shondrick Foxworth (East Marion) had 5 tackles, 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss. End Wardalis Ducksworth (Mize) and tackle Jordan Beaton (Harrison Central) each had a sack. Linebacker Jordyn Bowlin (Starkville), lineman Dashawn Crawford (Bay Springs) and linebacker Brad Zaffram (Buffalo, New York) also had a tackle for loss.
The Bobcats allowed PRCC quarterback Markevion Quinn to rush for over 200 yards, including touchdown runs of 76, 59, 13 and 1 yard.
“Obviously, we gave up some big plays in the running game,” Buckley said. “That’s something we’ve got to fix this week because Hinds has an athletic quarterback we are going to face. Two of them were calls on our part where we did not have anybody on the quarterback and the other times we just lost gap control.
“I thought we hung in there after that and kept plugging along. We regrouped on defense and played well in the second half.”
Buckley said the Bobcats fared well in special teams play last week.
“We were solid in the kicking game, but they were exceptional,” Buckley said. “Their kicker (Mark Johnson) did a tremendous job of pinning us back on kickoff coverage. That’s two years in a row he’s done that. I’m glad he’s a sophomore because he’s as good as you’re going to find as far as being able to kick it in the corner.”
Buckley was pleased with the way Bobcats battled throughout the game.
“It was a big win,” he said. “I thought we handled playing on a Saturday well and the heat was unbelievable. It was a lot more humid than we thought it was going to be, but we were ready and prepared it. The field was soggy and that made us play slow. But when you go on the road in our league and get a win, it’s always big.”
The Bobcats end regular season play at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 at Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Hinds hosts No. 7 East Mississippi at 2 p.m. on Oct. 28.