Story by Shawn Wansley, Jones SID
ELLISVILLE – The 16th-rated Jones College Bobcats open MACJC South Division play this week.
The Bobcats travel to Raymond to face the Hinds Eagles in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Robinson-Hale Stadium on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton. The game was moved to MC because of wet field conditions at Hinds.
Jones (1-1) will attempt to bounce back from a heartbreaking, 25-23 loss to Holmes last week. The Bulldogs scored the winning touchdown on a 34-yard pass with 7.2 seconds remaining.
JC head coach Steve Buckley said the Bobcats played hard, but came up short.
“I don’t think we played well enough to win the football game,” he said. “It was not an effort thing. Our kids played with extreme effort, but we made too many mistakes offensively that kept us behind the chains all night.
“The two things we talk about all of the time offensively are take care of the football and stay in front of the chains. We had three fumbles. Fumbles are going to happen in this game, but they are not acceptable. I don’t think we were careless with the ball at the running back position. I think we got hit at the perfect spot and coughed it up. It’s on the running back to take care of the ball.”
Jones had several positives in the game on offense.
Freshman running back Donte Edwards (Mobile, Alabama) had 25 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown. Freshman wide receiver Johnquarise Patterson (Pearl) had 12 catches for 90 yards and a score. Freshman wide receiver Natorian Watts (Petal) had four receptions for 79 yards and freshman wide receiver Nataurean Watts (Petal) had two catches for 28 yards and a touchdown.
Freshman quarterback Stetson Bennett (Blackshear, Georgia) was 21-of-35 for 197 yards and two scores.
But the Bobcats had three turnovers and were whistled for 16 penalties.
“Staying in front of the chains is a combination of 11 guys,” Buckley said. “It’s not on any one person. Sometimes it was on the O-linemen, sometimes it was on the quarterback, sometimes it was on the receiver and sometimes it was on the running back. We just were not clean. That’s on us as coaches. We’ve got to get this fixed offensively.”
Jones had taken a 23-18 lead with 1:26 to play when Bennett hit Nataurean Watts for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
But on the next kickoff, the ball went out of bounds for the third time on the evening, giving Holmes the ball at their own 35.
The Bulldogs picked up first downs by a run and a pass interference penalty and got to the Bobcat 34-yard line with just 15.2 seconds to play. Holmes then threw the ball into the end zone and got the winning touchdown with 7.2 seconds showing.
The Bobcats had several defensive standouts in the game.
Tackle DaShawn Crawford (Bay Springs) had 10 tackles, including five tackles for loss. Linebacker Nick Anderson (Vicksburg) had nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. Safety Fred Peters (Columbia) had eight tackles and two tackles for loss and safety Jonathan Haynes (Ray Brooks) had seven and a half tackles and a pass interception. End Wardalis Ducksworth (Mize) had seven and a half tackles and three tackles for loss.
Overall, the Bobcats had 16 tackles for loss against the triple-option Bulldogs. But Jones allowed a 90-yard touchdown pass on a third and 15 early in the fourth quarter, in addition to the game-winning score.
“I thought defensively we played hard and we played well,” Buckley said. “But two things we talk about are we can’t give up explosive plays and we gave up two of them for touchdowns and that was a great factor in the end result of the game. The second thing is we’ve got to create turnovers. We only got one turnover, an interception.
“Give Holmes credit. Coach (Jeff) Koonz and his staff did a tremendous job of getting their team ready to play. Obviously, they executed better than we did last Thursday night.”
Buckley said the Bobcats must put last week’s defeat behind them.
“It’s like I tell the kids all the time, success is not what happens to you,” he said. “It’s how you handle what happens to you. Are we going to be a responder or are we going to fold up? That’s why I love this game of football because you are going to get knocked down and it teaches you to get back up.
“We’ve got a choice to make. We can waller around in this for a week and not get ready for Hinds or we can respond and correct our mistakes and get ready to play. I think we will respond.”
This will be the first road trip for the Bobcats.
The Eagles of head coach Larry Williams are 1-1 on the season.
Hinds lost to No. 1 East Mississippi 50-0 to start the season before rebounding to beat Mississippi Delta 31-21 last week.
On offense, Hinds is led by quarterback Tylan Morton (6-4, 210), who has thrown for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Don Ragsdale (6-1, 215) is the leading rusher with 58 yards and wide receiver Eric Clark (6-0, 180) has seven catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, linebacker Amos Robinson (6-3, 220) tops the Eagles in tackles with 22 and also has two pass interceptions. He has been named the MACJC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 13 tackles and two interceptions vs. Mississippi Delta last week. Defensive back Kyree Fields (6-1, 200) has 18 tackles.
“Hinds is going to be talented,” Buckley said. “Larry does a great job of recruiting and they do a great job in all three phases of the game. It will be a dogfight going to their place. It’s our first road game and we are going to take 41 freshmen on the road for the first time.
“This whole week is about responding to adversity. We did not play well enough to win last week, so we’ve got to fix it and correct it and give great effort again. But we’ve got to execute whatever we’re doing offensively, defensively and in the kicking game.”
Buckley said the Bobcats must correct and clean up play in all three phases of the game.
“We are not complicated in what we do,” he said. “On special teams, we talk about doing two things. We don’t want to mess it up and we don’t want to turn it over. You are talking about penalties and turnovers and we had seven penalties in the kicking game last week. We just can’t do that.
“Offensively, we want to stay in front of the chains and take care of the ball. We didn’t do that last week. Defensively, we want to give great effort, don’t give up big plays and create turnovers. We did one of those last week. So, we’ve got things to correct.”
Buckley pointed out that Jones must improve quickly.
“The funny thing about a nine-game schedule is after this week, our season is a third over with,” he said. “So, we need to correct things quickly and that’s our job as coaches.
“(Last week’s) loss is on me as the head football coach. I’m going to accept it, the coaches are going to accept it and our players are going to accept it. We are going to get it fixed. It’s like I told them after the game, we all own this loss. Everybody that dressed out owned that loss.”
Jones returns home next week for a 7 p.m. game on Sept. 20 vs. No. 18 Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Hinds goes to Southwest next week.