By Shawn Wansley, Jones Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – The 13th-ranked Jones College Bobcats will face a major challenge this week.
The unbeaten and No. 12-rated Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs will be at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field for a 7 p.m. Thursday kickoff. The contest will air on www.jcjc.tv and WLAU-FM, 99.3, with Mark Easley and Luke Johnson on the call.
Jones is 2-1 overall, 1-0 in the MACJC South Division. MGCCC is 3-0 overall and will be opening up division play. The Bulldogs have whipped Mississippi Delta, 52-0; Coahoma, 46-21; and No. 18 Holmes, 48-14.
Bobcat head coach Steve Buckley says MGCCC is an experienced group.
“They are a sophomore-laden team,” he said. “They have 14 sophomores that start. They were a very young team last year. In junior college football, that is what happens. You are playing a lot of freshmen and the next year you look up and you are a pretty good football team.”
Jack Wright is in his first season as the MGCCC head coach. Buckley said the Bulldogs have changed things up on both sides of the ball.
“They are a different scheme in everything,” he said. “On offense, they are a good run-pass mixture. Defensively, they blitz and they play man and zone. So, you will get a multiple challenge there. They play with speed in the kicking game and they are very sound. They are a very well-coached football team.”
The Bulldogs are led on offense by quarterback Lowell Narcisse, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound transfer from LSU, and running back Terrion Avery, a 5-foot-10 sophomore from Stone, who averages 6.8 yards per carry. Wide receiver Nick Brown, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore from Stone, has 12 catches for 172 yards and Sedevyn Gray, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound sophomore from Puckett, has 5 catches for 172 yards.
“They are physical up front on both sides of the ball,” Buckley said. “They have a tremendous running back and quarterback and very good skill guys on both sides of the ball.”
Darrius Townsend, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound sophomore linebacker from Laurel, leads the Bulldogs in tackles with 24 and Corey Proctor, a 6-foot, 225-pound sophomore linebacker from Brandon, has 18 stops.
“They are very athletic and long on defense,” Buckley said. “It will be a great challenge for us, but I’m not so much worried about Gulf Coast. I’m more worried about Jones right now fixing some things that can be fixed quickly. We are an immature football team right now playing 41 freshmen. But you don’t have long in this league to grow up.”
Jones is coming off a 28-25 road victory at Hinds.
The Bobcats fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter, but battled their way back for the victory. Jones had three interceptions and lost a fumble in the game, but managed to overcome those turnovers.
Buckley said the team gutted out the win.
“I told the team at the team meeting (Sunday) that the reason we won that game was because of outstanding effort in all three phases of the game,” he said. “Offensively, we had three goals. One was to take care of the ball and we failed at that goal. No. 2, we had to stay in front of the chains and I thought we were very good at that. It didn’t seem like it at the game, but we only had one negative play on a first down possession. The third thing is we have to score (in) the plus 32 and turnovers kept us from scoring in the plus 32.
“But we played extremely hard and we eliminated a bunch of penalties. Both quarterbacks did a good job of managing the line of scrimmage, which we did not do the week before.”
On defense, the Bobcats were sound, except for allowing a 26-yard touchdown pass and a 35-yard pass in the fourth quarter.
“Defensively, we played extremely hard,” Buckley said. “But we gave up two big plays with communication issues in man coverage.”
The difference in the game was two special team touchdowns in the second half.
A heavy rush, led by John David Rutherford (St. Stanislaus), caused the Hinds punter to fumble the ball in the end zone and Myron Stewart (Port Gibson) recovered it for a touchdown to give the Bobcats a 21-14 lead midway through the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter Hinds attempted a 39-yard field goal, but it was blocked by DaShawn Crawford (Bay Springs). Jonathan Haynes (Ray Brooks) scooped it up and returned it 80 yards for what would prove to be the decisive touchdown.
“In the kicking game, the effort was outstanding,” Buckley said. “It was not as clean as we wanted it to be. Basically, we had two blocked scores for touchdowns on the blocked field goal and the punt. It was not really a blocked punt, but we came with so much pressure all night long I think it got into the center and the punter’s head. We talk all of the time about effort and finishing and we did.”
Freshman running back Kalyn Grandberry (Memphis, Tennessee) was the workhorse, carrying the ball 31 times for 150 yards. Freshman running back Donte Edwards (Mobile, Alabama) had 9 rushes for 29 yards, but lost a fumble that set up a Hinds score.
“Kalyn ran hard and he’s just getting better,” Buckley said. “He is doing well. Donte is a good back, but he has to take care of the ball. I can’t fix it for him – he’s got to fix it himself. I don’t want it to get in his head because he is not a fumbler. But they are putting the helmet on the ball. He just has to do a better job with pad level and protecting the ball.
“It’s kind of like we had the three interceptions and two of them were tipped. One was on fourth down and it was as good as a punt.”
On defense, linebackers Nick Anderson (Vicksburg), Daylen Gill (Louisville), Charlie Marlowe (Petal) and Davis Harrison (Lamar School) had solid games. Anderson had 7 tackles and 1 tackle for loss; Marlowe had 3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack; Harrison had 3 tackles and 1 tackle for loss; and Gill had 2 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.
“We are getting great play out of our linebackers,” Buckley said. “Nick, Charlie, Daylen and Davis just give us so much on the field. Nick and Daylen are just true freshmen linebackers and are playing so well right now.”
In the defensive line, Chei Hill (Miami, Florida) had 5 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 1 sack; Marquez Bembry (Atlanta, Georgia) had 4 tackles and 1 tackle for loss; and tackle James Williams (Jackson Callaway) had 4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 ½ sacks.
“We are playing so good up front,” Buckley said. “We are playing a lot of numbers and we are trying to keep guys fresh, even though we’ve had some injuries. But we built this team with depth in the defensive line and I think they are doing a good job with technique and Coach (Kwési) Drake is doing a tremendous job with that bunch. Our depth is helping us at that position right now.”
In the secondary, Fred Peters (Columbia) had 5 tackles and a pass breakup and Rutherford had 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and the forced fumble.
Buckley hopes for a big crowd at Thursday’s game vs. Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“It’s great to be 1-0, but we are a third of the way through the season,” he said. “It flies by. When you blink, you are over halfway done. This is a huge game to see where we are right now.”
The Bobcats will be at home again for another division contest next week. Jones will host Southwest at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27.
MGCCC will be at home next week against Copiah-Lincoln.